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No shooting magazines for sale to under-14s

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 16, 2012

'I hope the store  will realise that they have made a big mistake'     Alison Hawes

'I hope the store will realise that they have made a big mistake' Alison Hawes

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Country sports enthusiasts are furious at a decision by Britain's biggest newsagent to ban children from buying shooting magazines after a campaign by animal rights activists.

WH Smith says youngsters under 14 will not be sold shooting titles, even though it is legal to hold a shotgun licence below that age.

And even adult customers attempting to buy a magazine featuring shooting now face a humiliating alert as staff receive a "till prompt" to check the buyer's age. The high street retailer based the policy on the qualifying age for a firearms certificate and says checks are already in place for a range of products, including scissors and adhesives "where an element of common sense" is required.

However, sports groups point out that there is no minimum age for holding a shotgun licence in Britain, although children below 18 cannot buy or own a gun themselves and under-14s must be supervised by an adult.

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Countryside campaigners say the company has shown a "complete lack of understanding of the law" and may now feel the backlash of an angry countryside.

Alison Hawes, South West regional director of the Countryside Alliance, said the ban was "ignorant and ridiculous".

"I hope they will realise they have made a big mistake and have a change of heart," she added. "If word gets around, as is likely, then it may be that country people will no longer buy their magazines from WH Smith.

"They are now going to face the backlash of the countryside rather than a handful of animal rights activists."

Earlier this year, Animal Aid, Britain's largest animal rights organisation, published a report which claimed that the "lurid, pro-violence content" of country sports magazines could have a "corrosive, long-lasting effect on impressionable young minds".

The report, Gunning For Children: How the gun lobby recruits young blood, argued that titles promoting guns should be put on the top shelf alongside pornography, and banned for sale to under-18s.

A spokesman for WH Smith said it did not wish to act as a censor, adding: "As part of our commitment to operate our business responsibly, we have a till prompt on shooting titles.

"WHSmith seeks to do its best to satisfy all of its customers who often have strongly opposing views. We aim to display all of our magazines in locations where they are accessible to those who want to buy them, but do not offend those who do not.

The till prompt system has been in place for many years on a range of different products and this has not previously been an issue for customers."

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation said it was a "knee-jerk reaction to an extremist campaign" which would hit 7,000 young members.

Spokesman Christopher Graffius added: "It is extraordinary that in WH Smith you can buy a car magazine at any age, despite the age limit of 17 for driving.

"They are also causing enormous offence to adult shooters who are stopped at auto-scan tills."

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  • ReeceFowler  |  November 11 2012, 7:14PM

    MrVanKleefe, "Another side to this is the cases like Michael Ryan and Raoul Moat who go beserk with guns. Any relative of the victims would be against the promotion of guns. Gun crime is also on the increase so restricting the sale of these magazines isn't just for benefit of the fluffy bunnnies. Anyone who wants to harken back to the good old days best remember when the police were less likely to be shot" Since when do legal guns pose a threat to humans? When the law is not enforced properly, that's when. No problems with the law itself, and handgun crime has increased since the ban on handguns. There are plenty of laws to deal with gun crime, and to suggest that shooting magazines promote the sort of irresponsible gun culture you see in films is completely false. The magazines encourage responsible gun use, and teaching children to shoot teaches them discipline and responsibility. Surely this is something to be encouraged, not condemned?

    Rate   1
  • ReeceFowler  |  November 11 2012, 6:56PM

    Homerjay, Your comments about shooters are prejudiced and completely fact free. Going shooting does not make anyone a psychopath. If they did, they would not be allowed a shotgun or firearms license. It is a perfectly acceptable sport. It isn't primitive, it isn't cruel, it does not make someone a "neanderthal", and it is not unacceptable "in this day and age" - this day and age is no different from any other. You say you do not eat meat. Then you need to learn to accept other peoples' life choices. If shooters want to eat meat, they have every right to, and if they want to source it ethically by shooting it themselves, even better. There is nothing wrong with this. What about shooting for wildlife conservation? How would you protect water voles from american mink? How would you save our red squirrels from extinction due to the grey squirrel? How would you protect woodland from deer overpopulation due to the lack of natural predators? Lethal control is essential, and shooting is essential for that. Just a note, shooting never did that much to wolf numbers. Centuries ago, farmers burnt the forest to try to eradicate wolves. Shooting did not help, but it wasn't until this systematic burning of the forest began that the wolf started to feel the winds of impending extinction. Back to shooting as a form of meat production. I suppose shooters could just eat factory farmed meat instead. Would that be the more "evolved" and "enlightened" approach to take? Anyone who wants this policy reversed should sign this petition: http://tinyurl.com/btbhnqw

    Rate   1
  • skywalker  |  October 25 2012, 11:29AM

    I've always said, if it wasn't for the people, I'd love living in Devon. Everyone around me is racist, homophobic and incredibly right-wing who can't understand that killing animals for sport is moronic. It's incredible just how backwards my county is, and I am no longer confused when those outside Devon mock my accent and expect me to be a drunken Neanderthal with the intelligence of a worm. I'd love Devon. It's just a shame I have to share it with you people.

    Rate   -1
  • globalloon  |  October 22 2012, 11:27PM

    shop takes responsibility shocker

    Rate 0
  • homerjay  |  October 21 2012, 11:52PM

    These so called 'sportsmen and women' can only justify their sick perversion with red and green arrows and aggressively shouting down their critics with something they imagined we said as they are so hung up with the guilt of their cowardly bloodlust. They need psychiatric help to overcome their inferiority complex that manifest in the murder of the defenceless. It would help if thisisdevon/cornwall/somerset didn't sycophantically pander to the extreme section of their neanderthal clientelle by supporting sports of cowards and big eared boys. All animals experience fear, pain, deprivation and suffer for our 'pleasure', we need to make these neanderthals evolve.

    Rate   -1
  • reiwruwiou  |  October 19 2012, 11:31AM

    for me, the whole sad situation is summed up by a comment from Todeoclown60;- "A typical example of liberal doublespeak. If a hunter kills a dear quickly and cleanly with a hunting rifle that's an atrocity, but if a pack of wolves chase a dear for miles until it's exhausted and terrified, then gradually rip it to shreds with their teeth, that is all part of: "the great circle of life"." Two points here. Firstly, there are no wolves in the UK - they were hunted to extinction. A bit ironic, given the topic. Secondly, the closest thing we have to wild animals being ripped to shreds by canines is fox hunting, something that the Countryside Alliance is in favour of.

    Rate   2
  • SidneyNuff  |  October 18 2012, 10:27PM

    Well done WH Smith, most of these gun lovers are just compensating for their lack of manhood.

    Rate   -5
  • happygutz  |  October 18 2012, 9:56PM

    Alison Hawes is rather attractive.

    Rate   -3
  • homerjay  |  October 18 2012, 9:22PM

    Clown you certainly have a problem with comprehension. It's frightening that people like you could own a gun and maybe comprehend which end to point. I don't eat meat or dairy Where did I say anything about medications or foxes? Perhaps mummy could explain big words like vegan to you. And cowboy everyone has the freedom to live as they wish providing they don't inflict pain, misery, fear and death on other creatures. 'Hunters' inflicting pain, misery fear and death on creatures for 'sport' are just supremacists that believe it is their right to do as they please to just because no one stops them. You are a dinosaur, evolve.

    Rate   -5
  • popuptarget  |  October 18 2012, 6:57PM

    chunder- natives have always suffered when displaced by new arrivals. Please look at the histories of North America (or Europe for that matter) with a bit of dispassion. The native tribes were not all that civil to each other long before the presence of firearms on the continent. Granted that the colonists would have done better to follow the French model of dealing with the tribes than the English one but many tribes were eager to join the white man if it gave them the opertunity to stick it to a rival tribe. Overall, the tribes would have suffered the same fate because of greed for land and gold at the hands of settlers even without the use of firearms.

    Rate   -2