Back in August, we reported on UK Animal Aid’s campaign to make Shooting Times and The Field magazines “age restricted” material. They argued that images of dead animals (and text about shooting same) are “damaging not just to wildlife but also to the emotional development of young people.” telegraph.co.uk reports that Britain largest chain of newsagents has caved to the crusade; WH Smith no longer sells the mags to children under 14. “The retailer, whose founding family owned a highly prized shoot in Buckinghamshire, says it has introduced an age limit on such magazines as Shooting Times because children are not allowed to obtain a firearms certificate until they are 14.” Really? Actually no . . .
Sports enthusiasts point out that this is wrong. 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.
They question why the high street chain does not restrict the sale of motoring magazines such as TopGear to those old enough to drive.
“It is extraordinary that in WH Smith you can buy a car magazine at any age, despite the age limit of 17 for driving,” said Christopher Graffius, of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation.
“You can also buy numerous war magazines which depict the killing of people, yet WH Smith is concerned about children buying shooting magazines, a legal and an Olympic sport.
Note: this is not a government ban. As a private business, WH Smith is free to sell anyone of any age any magazine they want including pornography. Or not. But the newsagents’ move reflects the increasing marginalization of all gun rights, now that the UK has banned firearms for personal defense.
Here’s the official reaction from Alastair Balmain, editor of Shooting Times. Note the use of the word “thousands”:
“The idea that shooters, no matter what their age, are being subject to an embarrassing “restricted item” check by staff when they head for the tills is shocking, especially so when you consider that the content of magazines such as ours is specifically geared towards a family audience. I started shotgun shooting when I was 10, air rifles when I was younger. Like so many others, I enjoyed the support of my parents when I was starting to shoot. Thousands like me are outraged by the implication that our sport is worthy of such an arbitrary and ludicrous restriction.”
The jihad against the UK shooting sports, including a forthcoming ban on lead shot, is food for thought for anyone who’d argue that American hunters’ rights would remain untouched should other types of gun control find [more] fertile ground in The Land of the Free.