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Bill to ban under-14s from shotgun licences thrown out

Labour MP?s attempts to restrict access to shotguns for young people has failed to progress through Parliament.

Thomas Docherty had proposed the introduction of a minimum age of 14 years for holding a shotgun licence.

But his Private Member?s Bill failed to be heard last week, following strong lobbying by the Countryside Alliance (CA).

The CA?s shooting campaigns manager, David Taylor, said: ?There was no basis for this bill ? Mr Docherty had no evidence that young people with shotgun certificates are a problem.?

?He misunderstood the rules surrounding young people in the first place. He was quoted as saying that young people with certificates have ?unfettered access? to guns, when everyone knows that isn?t the case at all.?

Mr Docherty?s earlier attempts to justify his bill last week during an appearance with David Taylor on BBC Radio 4?s Today programme had ended in failure after presenter Evan Davis, in the words of one shooting commentator, gave Mr Docherty ?a thorough mincing from the outset?.

At one point, Davis accused Mr Docherty of ?meddling?.

The presenter said: ?I am just wondering whether this betrays an approach to politics that is quite revealing ? there obviously isn?t a problem with licensed children shooting people with shotguns, and there?s no evidence there?s going to be a problem.?

A Freedom of Information request to police forces in England and Wales by the Countryside Alliance revealed that, of 5,489 shotgun certificates suspended in England and Wales between 2000 and 2010, only two were held by under-14s.

During the Today interview, Mr Docherty said that he had had ?incredibly constructive discussions with the British Association of Shooting [sic]?.

He said: ?They have agreed with me how to take this bill forward and they support a minimum age of 10.?

However, BASC told Shooting Times that not only did Mr Docherty get the association?s name wrong, but he also misrepresented its position regarding age limits.

A spokesman said: ?BASC does not believe a minimum age for shotgun certificates is necessary. Thomas Docherty?s bill may have been produced from good intentions, but he was sadly misinformed about the laws as they exist and the lack of any discernible problem surrounding those young people who have been issued with certificates.?

?We?re not backing any minimum age ? the system as it is works fine in that respect.?

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