Chairman John Batley’s monthly report from the front line.
Game Fairs; Well, Scone lived up to its enviable reputation of being the best of Scottish hospitality at its beautiful site alongside the mighty Tay. Footfall was high and, in the main, the rain kept off. Exhibitors reported good sales and the message of fieldsports was eloquently promoted through the attendance of the shooting organisations. The Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, who organise the event, are to be congratulated for their excellent promotion of the research that they carry out on our behalf. Moving on to the ‘new’ Game Fair, held for the first time ever at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire. James Gower, the very enthusiastic and energetic MD of the event, has taken the Game Fair to new heights since the demise of the CLA event two years ago. James, and his team, took on the daunting challenge of re-vitalising the CLA event and the consensus of opinion, certainly from the Trade’s point of view, is that he has succeeded. Gunmakers Row abounded with well-known names and was busy during all three days. Footfall was over the 100,000 and, in the main, the weather was kind. For sure, it is still early days but the Fair moves back to Ragley next year (where James has already run one successful Game Fair), and I suspect the trade will continue to flourish with the help, and drive, of a very hardworking and dedicated team. The EU continues to influence the day-to-day business of the gun trade in the UK. The EU Regulation on deactivated firearms (2015/2403), which came into force in April 2016 is damaging the de-ac trade to the extent that some practitioners have already ceased trading. The new specifications for de-acs are, in some cases, more draconian than deemed necessary and, in other cases, not up to our own UK standards. The Home Office has bent over backwards to help but the EU Commission (and some Member States), are adamant that the standards must be applied. We must also not forget that an EU Regulation is direct acting and must be applied by all 28 Member States (MS). I cannot, and will not, speculate on what will happen when we leave. The same observation applies to the new EU Firearms Directive (2017/853). The Directive came into force in May 2017 and we, and the other MS, have varying amounts of time to transpose the legislation into UK law. The Directive (up until the time that we leave the EU), will have an effect on a number of issues which control our use of, and trade in, sporting firearms. Amongst other things: controls on magazines, data filing systems, dealers records, collectors, target shooters, medical information, controls on some semiautomatic firearms, marking, imitation firearms (‘replicas’), acoustic weapons, blank firers and alarm guns. We are also waiting, as a result of the Policing & Crime Act 2017, for updates on the Obsolete Calibre List, the definition of ‘antique firearms’, wording on Statutory Guidance, and a resolution of the question of fees for Section 5 Authorities, Licensed Clubs and Museums and I will keep you posted.