Memorandum by the Standing Conference
on Countryside Sports
LETTER TO THE CLERK OF THE COMMITTEE
I am Chairman of the Standing Conference on
Countryside Sports, which brings together representatives from
86 sporting or allied organisations. Aware of the considerable
public concern about the using and handling of firearms, we set
up a working party in 1996 to consider the essential role of shotguns
and rifles in countryside management.
I appreciate that the Committee is inquiring
into controls over firearms but thought that it would be helpful
to give you a summary of our findings. As a basic principle there
are many legitimate uses of shotguns and rifles and that ownership
of these includes the essential requirement for successful and
satisfactory land management.
The Standing Conference fully supports the legitimate
interests of those who need to use shotguns and rifles for countryside
management, and also supports those with special interests.
Shotguns and rifles are needed for:
the economic and conservation interest
the control of game predators which
affect the economic base of the countryside;
the control of damage to crops, livestock,
forestry and fishing;
the protection of livestock, eg from
dog worrying; and
humane purposes where animals may
be injuredsometimes as a result of road accidents, alternative
land use and diversification, eg clay pigeon shooting.
The working party also recognised the necessary
legal possession of appropriate handguns for use by veterinary
surgeons and other certificated persons for humane purposes.
The Standing Conference is concerned that there
may be interference with the legal and necessary use of shotguns
and rifles and the effects which this could have on countryside
management. Too strict regulation could undermine the economics
of the countryside and it would not be desirable to disturb the
many legal uses of shotguns and rifles.
Security is, of course, of vital importance
and the onus must rest on individuals to ensure that shotguns
and rifles, held for legitimate use, do not fall into the wrong
hands. Best practice should be followed at all times and a Code
of Practice, similar to those already in use for game rearing
and management, should be produced.
The Standing Conference brings together people
from a wide range of backgrounds and experience, with assessors
from several Government departments including the Home Office
and the Association of Chief Police Officers, and has access to
a great deal of expertise. Conference is attended by representatives
of the Central Council for Physical Recreation and the British
Shooting Sports Council and entirely supports both organisations'
efforts to safeguard the interests of all the organisations in
Chairman Standing Conference on Countryside Sports
12 October 1999