The Alliance believes these statistics prove conclusively that young people take the responsibility of handling shotguns very seriously and efforts to stop them entering the sport of shooting must be condemned.
Research conducted by the Alliance and figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from Police Forces in England and Wales reveal that:
– In the past ten years just two people under the age of 14 have had their shotgun certificates withdrawn by the police.
– In both of these cases the reasons for the certificate being withdrawn were completely unrelated to firearms crime.
– If below the age of 15, a certificate only allows a young person to borrow a shotgun and use it only under the strict supervision of an adult. Our research also shows that no link exists between illegal gun crime and minors who possess shotgun certificates.
– Moreover, evidence shows that sport shooting teaches children discipline, sportsmanship and a keen sense of responsibility and that restricting access to what is an Olympic sport in the year of the London Games is deeply misguided.
David Taylor, shooting campaign manager for the Countryside Alliance, said: ?There is simply no justification for a minimum age for holding a shotgun certificate. MP Thomas Docherty has failed to understand the complexities of the licensing system and puts forward disingenuous arguments to support his fragile case.?
?Many young people, potential Olympic gold medallists, could be prevented from enjoying their sport because of one person?s failure to comprehend our existing laws.?
Richard Faulds, Great British shooter and winner of the gold medal in the men’s double trap at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, said: ?It is very important that young people aren?t prevented from getting involved in shooting. I had a shotgun certificate at 9 and competed for Britain at the age of 13.?
?Shooting taught me about responsibility and sportsmanship from a young age, and gave me the bug for competitive shooting that has seen me win 19 World Championship titles and gold at the Sydney Olympics. We must resist any attempts to stop young people getting into sport and especially shooting.?
The Countryside Alliance has today released its largest and most comprehensive report into young people and shotgun certificates in Britain.
The report is a direct response to a Private Members Bill due to be read on Friday 20 January and being proposed by Thomas Docherty, Labour MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, that seeks to introduce a minimum age for holding a shotgun certificate of 14-years-old.
When proposing his bill, Mr Docherty was widely quoted saying that he believed ‘society as a whole is deeply uncomfortable with the idea of a 7-year-old having access to a lethal weapon.?
To demonstrate why he is wrong and that this is actually a positive thing for British sport, and one which poses no risk to the public, the Countryside Alliance sent Freedom of Information requests to every police force in England and Wales asking how many shotgun certificates had been withdrawn from young people under the age of 14 in the past 10 years.
The figures reveal that – in the past decade – just two young people have had their certificates withdrawn; and on both occasions for offences that were totally unconnected with firearms.