The proposals are intended to improve the safety and wellbeing of certified firearms users, while keeping the additional administrative burden to a minimum.
Farming is a responsible industry that accounts for a significant degree of legitimate firearm ownership and use in the UK, for instance, as a method of pest control.
NFU Chief Land Management Adviser Sam Durham said “The sector is well-versed in handling and securing shotguns safely and effectively, and happily co-operates with police firearms officers, observing the conditions of licences with diligence.”
He added that the NFU accepts the protection of public safety is the key principle behind the firearms licensing regime.
The NFU welcomes the ministerial statement at 1.2 and their awareness of the legitimate use of shotguns for pest management for our farming members.
“Public safety is our priority, but the measures to manage the risk to public safety must be proportionate and balanced with the fact that the vast majority of licensed firearms holders are law abiding and cause no concern (…) Shotguns are already subject to significant controls on their use and they are important in helping farmers control vermin on their land and in rural pursuits. We will keep this under review, but we are concerned that additional controls on shotguns are unnecessary and would have a negative impact on their legitimate use."
Farmers require practical access to firearms to manage their businesses and that the licensing system must strike a fair balance between restricting access to firearms while allowing law-abiding and responsible citizens to use them, whether for commercial or recreational purposes.
While we understand firearms are an emotive topic, we acknowledge that they can be a vital pest-management tool for some of our members.
The NFU has collated responses from its members and will be shortly publishing the response to the consultation.