Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by the Humane Slaughter Association


Controls over Firearms

  Thank you very much for the opportunity, albeit very late, to offer our views on the above. As discussed, the British Veterinary Association (BVA) brought the consultation to my attention and the views of the Humane Slaughter Association (HSA) largely reflect those documented in the BVA's submission. However, there are three points I wish to bring to your attention:

  1.  An air pistol can be used to effectively kill large poultry, such as geese and turkeys. These birds have very strong necks and can be difficult to kill by neck dislocation without the aid of specialist equipment. In the case of casualty birds, this method is very useful, though not in widespread use. The HSA is currently involved in the development of a small captive-bolt tool designed expressly for this purpose. In the event of it being successful, we would recommend its use above that of an air weapon, for safety's sake if nothing else.

  2.  The BVA highlights the inconsistencies surrounding the licensing of handguns for the purposes of humane destruction, mainly to veterinary surgeons. The HSA feels that a golden opportunity to remove such weapons from circulation was missed in the drafting of the Firearms Amendment Act. The Act does not include a statutory definition of "humane killer". If it did, then exemptions could have been made for humane killers and anything not falling within the statutory definition would have become an illegal weapon.

  3.  I frequently hear horror stories from different parts of the country describing the activities of police officers called out to shoot escaped livestock. They generally include accounts of animals being shot several times, in the wrong place, with inappropriate ammunition. Although I have been involved with some forces in the training of their officers in respect of farm livestock, I have received little enthusiasm from others when I have offered my services at training course. Surely there should be a standard level of knowledge among police officers across the country, especially in important areas such as anatomy and ballistics. Getting it wrong has serious implications for both animal welfare and public safety.

  I enclose copies[58] of the HSA publications "Humane Killing of Livestock Using Firearms" and "Humane Dispatch and Disposal of Infant Calves" for reference. Further copies can be obtained from the HSA at the above address. I also include a publications leaflet for your further interest.

  I hope you find our comments useful and if I can be of any more help to you, in any matters concerning firearms and/or the slaughter or humane destruction of animals, please do not hesitate to make contact.

C W Mason

Chief Technical Officer

11 November 1999

58   Not printed. Back

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