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Shooting under fire as challenges mount

Proposed changes to the licensing regime would see shotguns treated as strictly as Section 1 firearms, and lead shot is back in the spotlight

The past week has seen two news stories, both recently reported in these pages, turned unfairly against the shooting community.

First came the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) report on the tragic Plymouth shooting where five people were killed. Despite acknowledging that the issuing of murderer Jake Davidson’s initial licence was “attributable to a lack of training, supervision and inadequate force processes” and that the officers who issued his licence renewal should face disciplinary action, the report suggests sweeping changes to firearms licensing anyway.

The proposed changes include making the licensing regime for shotguns as strict as that for Section 1 firearms, such as rifles.

Under this change, shotguns would need to be individually listed and all ammunition would have to appear on the licence too.

Christopher Graffius, BASC’s executive director of communications and public affairs, said: “BASC is clear that we need a system of licensing that protects public safety and also provides an efficient service. It is plain to see that that system was absent in Keyham with tragic consequences. It is obvious from the comments of the coroner and the verdict of the jury at the inquests that the fault lay not with the existing laws but with their inconsistent application by Devon and Cornwall Police.”

In another potential blow to our sport, Green Party peer Natalie Bennett is to table a question in the House of Lords, asking Defra what steps it plans to take “to end the use of lead shot in hunting in England”. This follows the Cambridge University report that found 94% of pheasants are still being shot with lead three years into the five-year voluntary ban proposed by the major shooting organisations in February 2022.