The BPC's Response to the Home Office Consultation on Firearms Safety
The British Pistol Club (BPC) was founded to support the Olympic sport of target shooting and its Membership is restricted to the leading target shooters in the country. With over 340 current Members (of which 35 are Full Members who have represented Great Britain in competition) we speak for a significant proportion of pistol shooters who compete in the Olympic & Paralympic disciplines of 10m Air Pistol, 25m Rapid Fire Pistol and 25m Sport Pistol as well as other disciplines in which Great Britain has competed in ISSF World Cup events and beyond, such as Modern Pentathlon.
Every month the British Pistol Club runs competitions in the Olympic disciplines with, on average, almost 800 entries per year of which over 150 are Juniors. We have never had a single safety issue with any of our competitions, which are run in line with current Home Office guidelines on airgun safety. We therefore believe that we are well-positioned to comment on these proposed changes.
The sport of target shooting is currently undergoing a significant boost to the numbers of young athletes entering the sport (e.g. entries to the British Shooting Schools Pistol Championships have increased from 124 in 2015-16 to 656 in 2019-2020 ) and we agree that safety is an important issue for these young athletes.
Our main areas of concern with regard to Firearms Safety are any proposed changes to the legislation around air gun safety. Air pistols are a safe and accessible way for young athletes to begin their participation in our sport. As such we completely support any and all reasonable steps to ensure safe handling that can be done in a practical manner that is sustainable for the sport.
Air Weapons Consultation
The BPC has looked at several responses issued publicly and we have chosen to align ourselves with the response prepared by The British Association for Shooting & Conservation (BASC). We believe that the consultation response prepared by BASC correctly identifies the main concerns and provides a comprehensive and well-researched rebuttal of some of the assumptions made in the Impact Assessment document. In particular, the BPC would like to draw the Home Office’s attention to:
- The lack of transparency and referencing in the gathering of statistics to justify a change in legislation
- The lack of proportionality in proposing a change in law based upon one complex case (that of Benjamin Wragge), which is itself entirely unrepresentative of the normal pattern of use for air guns that the BPC and its Members observe in their daily interaction with young air pistol users
We also support the BASC assessment of the options for improving air gun storage, with the addition of the caveat that these rules should apply outside of a monitored shooting environment such as a competition hall or training event. In these situations, Range Officers and other trained staff are on hand to manage safety, thus:
“When under 18-year-olds are present, in a non-shooting environment, air guns must be stored securely, out of sight and separately from their ammunition” (BASC wording with BPC addition in bold)
The BPC has considerable experience with young athletes in possession of air pistols and we absolutely support a constructive and proportionate approach to establish the parameters for safe handling and use. We also offer our further support to the Home Office, if required, in understanding the contribution the sport of pistol shooting has made to our Olympic, Commonwealth and intra-sport competitive history.