Political parties discuss shooting

In the run up to the general election on 8 June, different political parties and lobbying groups have been appealing to shooters.

While Clay Shooting reached out to the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, UKIP, the Green Party, and the SNP, only two had provided a written response so far.

Several said they could not comment until the party had finished its manifesto and there are still precious few MPs and parties with views on the record.

First to respond was UKIP, whose communications manager David Challice said: “UKIP has always been a great supporter of field sports. We know how vitally important it is to the countryside, with all the spin-off benefits for pubs, inns, and B&Bs, not to mention for estates and for providing training, jobs, and apprenticeships in areas where opportunities are usually scarce unless you are born into a farming background.

“Most previous governments (Labour in particular) knew more about the back end of the Moon than they did about the countryside. Asked where bacon comes from, they’d answer, ‘Sainsbury’s.’ UKIP is not like that. We understand the countryside. We know where bacon comes from.

“We certainly recognise shooting’s contribution to the Olympic team and it has always seemed madness that our GB Team has had to travel across the Channel to practise in France, where the gun regulations are less paranoid.”

UKIP justice spokesman Peter Jewell said: “I am a holder of both a shotgun and firearms licence. As justice spokesman I can assure you that I would fight against any watering down of the present conditions.

“UKIP would support your views unequivocally,” he added. “We say it as it is and wish to lessen legislation.”

Meanwhile, a Labour spokesperson said: “We support people’s right to go shooting in accordance with the current law. Our approach to all policy decisions are evidence-based and robust.

“We will ensure that any fees charged for gun licence are proportionate and cover the cost of processing the application. Given the loss of over 20,000 officers since the Tories came to power, it’s no wonder overstretched forces have delays in processing applications. We will ensure that police forces have the resources they need to carry out their work effectively and efficiently.

“We recognise that tighter controls can present difficulties for legitimate gun owners who have done nothing wrong. However, there is a clear and growing threat from terrorists and organised criminals which must be tackled head on. We believe the EU firearms directive is a proportionate response to the growing threat we face.”

The Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats both said they would be happy to respond to Clay Shooting, but only once the parties had finalised their manifestos – which they had not done at the time of going to press, one month before the election date. Clay Shooting is still awaiting a response from the Green Party and SNP.

BASC chairman Peter Glenser said: “Prospective MPs need to know that shooting is a force for good for the economy, for conservation and for social wellbeing.

“Our website allows us to make sure shooting’s voice is heard in Westminster. Candidates will be left in no doubt that shooting matters to their constituents and it will provide is with a good indication of where MPs stand in the next parliament.” Visit www.basc.org.uk for more information.

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