In the beginning of October, one of the United Kingdom’s largest retailers of books and magazines banned the sale of shooting, hunting and angling magazines to youths under 14 and began to require photo identification of adults to buy such titles. Animal Aid, one of the largest animal rights organizations in the UK, pressured W.H. Smith, the retailer, to restrict such titles because they claimed the magazines promote “pro-violent content” that could have a “corrosive, long-lasting effect on impressionable young minds.”
On November 7, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) announced that “W.H. Smith refuses to confirm that till prompts have been removed in all of its stores, but has said that they do not apply to the ‘majority of shooting titles which we sell,'” according to a BASC press release.
The change of heart came amid a social media campaign, emails to the company, an online petition that gained 12,000 signatures and in-person soliciting at stores to rescind the ban. BASC was not alone in its venture. The UK shooting sports group Countryside Alliance helped the effort, while the head coach of Great Britain’s Olympic shooting team, Ian Coley, criticized the retailer for policing children’s literature choices for a legal sport.
While the till prompt is not confirmed to be rescinded in all W.H. Smith stores, the BASC encourages members to visit the store for themselves to find out.
PETA Asks U.S. Retailer for Similar Ban
Back on our side of the ocean, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) wrote a letter to the president and CEO of the Hudson Group (a periodicals retailer with locations throughout major travel hubs in the United States), Joseph DiDomizio, asking his company to keep hunting magazines out of reach and view of minors by putting them in the pornographic, age-restricted magazines section.
The group’s reasoning being that “hunting magazines present killing as fun and exciting and encourage violent behavior in young people,” according to the letter. Tracy Reiman, the executive vice president of PETA who wrote the letter, likened hunters to gunmen who opened fire in schools saying that hunting magazines may be a bad influence since they portray hunting as fun. “Not every hunter will kill a human, of course, but in this era of escalating violence, it is irresponsible and downright dangerous to allow kids access to magazines that promote killing for “fun.”
Reiman encouraged DiDomizio to implement a similar age restriction on the sale of hunting magazines as W.H. Smith did in the United Kingdom. At the time of publication, there was no word on DiDomizio’s reaction.