Hounded by animal rights activists, one of the United Kingdom’s largest retailers of books and newspapers has banned the sale of shooting magazines to youth. In addition to the ban, adults wishing to buy shooting magazines will have to prove their age by showing identification.
The retailer, WH Smith, said children below the age of 14 will not be able to purchase a shooting magazine. The age limit is based off of the qualifying age for a firearms certificate. In the UK, children below the age of 17 cannot buy or own a gun themselves and those under 14 must be supervised by an adult, although there is no minimum age for holding a shotgun license, according to a British sports group.
Campaigners with Countryside Alliance, a British organization that promotes issues relating to the countryside (such as hunting, shooting, and angling) are staunchly against the ban. The group calls it “ignorant and ridiculous” and said that the company has shown a “complete lack of understanding of the law.”
A spokesperson for WH Smith said the company wished to satisfy all of its customers who may have strongly opposing views. “As part of our commitment to operate our business responsibly, we have a till prompt on shooting titles.” Till prompts are pop-ups on registers that alert a cashier to check identification for age-restricted goods.
The change at WH Smith came about from strong pressuring and a report by Animal Aid, one of the largest animal rights organizations in the UK. The organization published a report that claimed that, “lurid, pro-violent content” could have a “corrosive, long-lasting effect on impressionable young minds.” The report suggested that shooting magazines should be placed among pornography and other age-restricted material on store shelves.
On the lighter side, spokesman Christopher Graffius for the British Association for Shooting and Conservation found it funny that a person of any age can buy a car magazine, even though the legal driving age in Britain is 17 years.