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Bill to ban under-14s from shotgun licences

A Private Members’ Bill which seeks to introduce a ban on children under the age of 14 from holding a shotgun licence, will have its second reading in Parliament next month.

The Firearms (Amendment) Bill was introduced by Labour MP Thomas Docherty in January this year.

When he presented it to the House of Commons, he said: “At present, chief constables have very little, if any, scope to refuse an application from a 10 or 11-year-old. The bill will send a clear and straightforward message that our society is not comfortable with the principle of young children handling lethal weapons.”

The extremely emotive nature of Mr Docherty’s bill was made apparent earlier this month when the BBC’s The One Show ran a report on it.

The show featured youngsters defending their right to take part in legitimate shooting sports in the face of opposition from an anti-gun campaigner, Lucy Cope from Mothers Against Guns.

The item led to a number of complaints of bias from the shooting community and accusations that the BBC wilfully juxtaposed the theme of criminal misuse of firearms with youngsters’ involvement in legitimate shooting sports.

Viewers heard Ms Cope describe the shotguns used at a clayshooting ground as “weapons of mass destruction”.

Responding to complaints, the BBC stated: “By bringing Lucy Cope to the shooting range, we were enabling her to see for herself how responsibly and securely run it is, rather than just letting her make statements.”

BASC spokesman, Simon Clarke, told Shooting Times that the association has written to the BBC director general to lodge a formal complaint.

He said: “We believe there was a clear breach of the BBC’s own guidelines in the way the item was arranged and filmed. The item played heavily on the reactions of a mother whose son died in an inner-city shooting. The three supporters of shooting who appeared did a very good job of putting their points across clearly and accurately and we all owe them a vote of thanks.”