Seven out of 10 UK gun trade businesses have reported difficulties trading since Brexit, according to an exclusive Gun Trade News survey carried out in association with the Gun Trade Association.

A remarkable seven out of ten businesses surveyed at the end of February 2021 have reported having difficulties trading abroad since Brexit, with four in ten calling trading conditions ‘very difficult’, according to an exclusive Gun Trade News survey. The survey, which includes responses from major manufacturers, distributors and retailers within the UK gun trade and appears in this month’s issue of Gun Trade News, confirms the fears of many about the chaotic trading landscape post-Brexit.

Jonathan Djanogly MP, Chairman of the British Shooting Sports Council, commented: “I am well aware of the concerns of the gun trade over the impact of Brexit on both import and export transactions. In particular, the inability of importers to get necessary paperwork approved by the UK authorities was raised at our most recent Council meeting, and I have contacted the Department for International Trade over this.”

Frequently reported issues

Problems with carriers, inability to get proper licences and major delays are the most frequently reported issues. “There are huge delays on all goods movement and incorrect duties are being applied,” one large retailer complained. “Firearms and ammunition are hard to get hold off,” a major UK distributor tod us, and one ammunition manufacturer described the overall picture as: “Shipments delayed, reduced availability of transport, much more expensive [transport] and it now takes, on average, 40 days to obtain a permit from the Spanish authorities to ship goods to the UK.”

One custom rifle builder told us they were going to give up trading with the EU and semi-retire: “We have had massive problems exporting to the EU. We have used correct customs declaration codes, but still every parcel is held up for weeks. As a result we are planning a three-day week and semi-retirement.” When asked if he had a message for the UK government one well-known trader of vintage firearms told GTN: “These problems were well sign-posted, yet nothing was done to mitigate them. You acted with blind political zeal rather than economic pragmatism to protect key areas of the economy. Now, predictably, we are suffering as a result.” And alarmingly the issues seem to have spread beyond trade with the EU, with one well-respected British gun manufacturer telling us that they were suffering really bad delays exporting small parts to the USA.

Closer to home, issues dealing with Northern Ireland have also surfaced with one high street retailer describing the movement of firearms to and from the region as “almost impossible”. “Sending from Northern Ireland to the mainland now requires an export licence, even though the firearm doesn’t leave the UK,” they explained. “This is within our own country, how can it be an export?” they demanded to know. Simon West of the Gun Trade Association told GTN: “the situation is very untidy, but we do believe it is improving and that some of these issues are just teething problems.” He went on to point out that the GTA has been working across the industry to help resolve issues with some success already, and encouraged anyone continuing to have issues to get in touch with the GTA straightaway. The Department for International Trade was approached for comment but did not respond.

Further reporting and comments will be found at Gun Trade News.