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What should we allow WHSmith to sell us?

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: October 27, 2012

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I WAS interested in the news item (Echo, October 24) on the policy of W H Smiths over the sale of gun magazines to children.

I can understand the objection from a gun enthusiast that someone aged 13 may legally obtain a shotgun licence under supervision of someone aged 21 or over – and yet may not purchase any of IPC Media's three shooting magazine titles from WH Smiths.

"Free speech" is however not limitless.

I totally support WH Smith on their policy – indeed anyone and anything which can subdue young people's enthusiasm for firearms. Of all the English-speaking democracies, we have one of the lowest levels of gun violence (England and Wales, 0.46 gun-related deaths per 100,000 population which compares favourably with USA at 10.27 deaths per 100,000).

I would however beg WH Smith to think again about the wisdom of stocking another magazine which you can now find on their shelves.

What Your Doctors Don't Tell You is a bewildering mix of sensible health stories and other pieces which I feel are alarmist and scientifically dodgy.

The magazine of course has a fair sprinkling of ads for "lypospheric vitamin" products, Chlorella-based pills, the famous "Q-link" machine and "miracle enzyme" pills.

Save your money, good people.

The NHS isn't 100 per cent perfect but many countries envy us that we have it.

John Ricketts,


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  • ReeceFowler  |  November 23 2012, 8:12PM

    Yes it is virtually zero. Illegal guns are the reason for gun crime, not legal ones. The belief that legal guns are a significant danger to the public is outdated. Technically, gun crime also includes trivial stuff such as failing to renew a license on time. It's not all gun battles and drive by shootings. "Cars are an essential tool to the majority, guns are an 'essential' tool to a minuscule group of people" Nonsense, guns are essential to many as well. Just because you don't need them doesn't mean others don't. Come to think about it, most human inventions could be considered unnecessary. We could go back to living in caves. We could survive like that. As long as we take in enough food and oxygen. But we don't, for obvious reasons. If shooting is not considered essential, the same argument could be applied to most aspects of society. Except no one does that, because it would be ridiculous. I don't support that either, just making a point. Yes it is a minority who persecute raptors, not the majority. And raptor persecution is on the decline at the moment. If you want to campaign against raptor persecution, focus on the small minority who actually do kill raptors, not the vast majority of gamekeepers who abide by the law. There are always going to be exceptions, but almost all game meat is later eaten. Demand is increasing at the moment and any sensible shoot is not going to throw away a second line of profit. Estates have gone to great lengths to sell shot game, with some even being exported to the continent. A case of game dumping happened near me and all the other local gamekeepers were quite annoyed at it, because it gives anti shooters more fuel for their propaganda. How does the policy protect children exactly? What is it in these magazines they need protecting from? Nothing. If you want to stop your children buying the magazines, do so, but do not try to dictate what other people's children can get access to. And as for the argument about parents controlling what their children buy, why not get WHSmith (and all shops) to ban the sale of everything in their shops to children? Why does this only apply to shooting magazines? Maybe porn should be accessible to people 16 or over. The age of consent. That seems fair. Restrict publications based on actual age restrictions, not imaginary ones. Why shouldn't non shooting children have access to shooting magazines? I've said this many times, but we're not forcing them to read it and support the viewpoint presented, we're just giving them the choice. What's wrong with giving them a choice? Let them form their own opinions on shooting but let that opinion be borne out of knowledge and understanding, and seeing both sides of the story. Shooters don't try to censor the voice of the animal rights movement. It would be nice for the animal rights lobby to return the favour.

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  • TDugg  |  November 09 2012, 10:55PM

    As for the raptors the information is hard to come by. Most of it is quite old, much of it very regional and statistics being what they are disguise a number of things. I believe it was Kestrels and Sparrow hawks in decline but these are two of our most commons species so not only are they not targeted by our bird protection groups there numbers are easier to get wrong. The fact those in decline are not at risk is key. Doesn't mean it isn't important or they could be at risk in the future but they are not at the same risk level of our most persecuted birds. Buzzards also heavily persecuted but their numbers have exploded in recent years along with kites. Maybe its all those shot animals thrown onto the side of the road. Maybe its the over production of game birds. They still killed but their numbers protect the species. This isn't so good for Hen Harriers, Goshawks or Eagles although the Scottish populations are holding up the figures to some degree. Not that the persecution isn't happening there of course. In the case of Eagles obviously most of it is in Scotland. The illegal killing of our bird probably would be noticed. Hen Harriers also on the brink of extinction in England and Wales. Everyone agrees it's a managed grouse moor issue and it's not because they don't appreciate the moor or the glut of Red Grouse. I know, it's a minority...... Personally I'd much prefer to see the Hen Harriers. Couple of reports, vary in age. As said they don't document to that degree annually. http://tinyurl.com/aofeqvl http://tinyurl.com/b96ppan Document specifically dealing with raptor persecution. 2011 http://tinyurl.com/9lslepf

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  • TDugg  |  November 09 2012, 10:33PM

    It isn't virtually zero. Show us some facts Reece. Even suicide is a crime Reece. There are just too many to list with the character limit I'm allowed. I urge people to go and find them. When someone who has been deemed fit to own a gun loses it, has it stolen or uses it to harm himself or others it is the fault of the law? I can understand this to a certain degree but you give thema very difficult, if not impossible job. Why dont the BASC or a new body take over the regulation of gun users? I guarantee crimes will still happen and then you'll run out of other peoplet o blame. None of this helps the innocent victims of gun crime who just have to put up with it (if they're lucky to survive it) so you can have your sporting pleasures. Nonsense. Cars are an essential tool to the majority, guns are an 'essential' tool to a minuscule group of people. Even if I give you pest control for the 'essential' it is a tiny group of people. It could also be classed as a profession and taken entirely out of private ownership. That may actually provide you with zero gun crime by legal guns. It is not valid comparison for the reasons stated. To promote something the majority of us will actually use and cannot access until a certain age does not compare to promoting something heavily restricted (because of its purpose) that the majority will never use, need to or should have access to. If you must make the comparison then to be honest it highlights other important issues. Not only do we limit children from driving, the majority of those involved in road traffic incidents are young people. So maybe we do need to look at the age people drive and the training procedure. I would suggest guns start at the same sort of age. I have no issue with children looking at cars fatasising about driving. I do have an issue with children looking at guns fatasising about shooting things, especially if they living in a city with limited access to country sports. 'The RSPB doesn't control raptors and neither do most shooters. Again, this is an issue of a minority breaking the rules.' Rubbish. Even the examples we know about are enough. If it's a minority they do it well and they cover each area. If it is a minority they must be coordinated. It's public domain, investigate away. They are more controlled in their judgment but they publish the same facts. Check out any number of raptor sites. No one disagrees that they are being persecuted, and no one denies that most of that is gamekeepers. You say it like I should be scared of you researching it Reece. I'd love the issue to be battled out and the RSPB and shooting organisations forced into an honest debate. We may actually make some progress. As for dumping of birds I dont accuse all at all. I presume most of it is actually carried out by the shoot organisers themselves. The point is not all birds all eaten, too many are bred and too many are shot for some sort of ego boosting number battling shooting competition. It is so far from hunting for survival as to discredit what little justification they had. I don't believe it's a crime so need for innocent until proven guilty or vice versa. How it looks though is another issue, and to many it looks very bad indeed. I presume people are hinting at us being civilsed when they say 'in this day and age'. It is not an ethical form of meat production and it is not a meat most of us eat or where most of our meat comes from. Or you could just buy the magazine for children, the minority of children who shoot rather than force me to monitor my child 24-7. I could of course just rely on the shop to restrict my child accessing such material but due to you feeling 'discriminated' against you attack a policy meant to protect children. Why not allow children to buy pornography? Don't force them just allow them the choice. Sex is legal, looking at naked people certainly is. You can in fact have sex before you can purchase the magazine. Generally it's to protect children.

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  • ReeceFowler  |  November 09 2012, 9:17PM

    Gun crime amongst legal gun owners IS virtually zero. Not saying that it does not exist, just that it is extremely rare. When it does happen, it is the enforcement of law that is the problem. Nom the comparison with cars is not "nonsense" at all. Cars are an essential tool, so are guns, for many people. Whether you agree with sport shooting or not (which I do), shooting is necessary to control pests, and protect wildlife and agriculture. The point I am making with cars is that you cannot condemn everyone because a minority break the rules. What part of this do you not understand? In that respect, it is a perfectly valid comparison. The RSPB doesn't control raptors and neither do most shooters. Again, this is an issue of a minority breaking the rules. You say the RSPB magazine talks about game shooting in a negative light about control of predators. The RSPB is supposedly neutral on shooting, so I am intrigued. Might investigate that further. If I remember rightly, the only bird of prey technically in decline is the kestrel. Numbers of some species may be unacceptably low, but nationwide, only the kestrel is actually declining in number. As for dumping of birds, with your comment about people trying to hide the evidence, you are basically saying that all shooters are guilty unless proven innocent. Is there not a bit of a hole in that logic? When I said "in this day and age", this is just a general point which many anti shooters bring up, which I decided to include in my reply. Shooting for sport is also an ethical form of meat production, and it has a lot going in its favour. By all means stop your children buying the magazines if that is what you want, but do not try to dictate what other people can and cannot read. What is so bad about giving other children the choice of reading these magazines if they so wish? We are not forcing them to read them and take it in, we are giving them the choice. Shooting is a legal sport. You can take part in it. Just because there are some restrictions on it does not make it illegal. You are still able to go shooting if you want to.

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  • Gibspoon  |  November 09 2012, 6:53PM

    Well done to BASC, for helping the shooting community, and future shots. The sooner the public realise that there is a difference between drug dealers with illegal guns and a healthy interest in serious shooting, the better. A long way to go though, as there are more people ignorant to it all than not. Hopefully, if shooters and BASC keep doing the right thing, this can change.

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  • TDugg  |  November 09 2012, 6:02PM

    "Human rights means free speech, which you said was "not limitless". Well actually the article I quoted did but I do agree. That doesn't imply it's just your rights that are limited. Rights are limited all the time for us all for the benefit of the majority. The restrictions on gun use is an infringement to all our rights although I appreciate only shooters mind. A restriction on a magazine to children is an infringement to children. Very much like when we infringe on their rights to smoke, drink, watch 15/18 certificate films or games, access pornography, get married and on and on. Most people consider this infringement quite sensible, those being infringed being our children. Even speech itself is limited and rightly so. Gun crime is not virtually zero Reece. You can't just make things up. Maybe if you ever have the misfortune of having one of these tragedies affect your life you will not only see that the laws fail but also the fact they are rare isn't quite enough. Keeping guns secure does not help when it's the person who has the key that goes on a rampage as in the main three recent cases. At least you haven't said legal guns pose no danger at all on this thread. Go and check the statistics on gun crime/incidents. They aren't and will never be zero. It is a nonsense comparison. It was not only on the BASC site but also spouted by a BASC representative in the terrible articles in The Telegraph and The Daily Mail which seemed to kick this whole issue off. They also seemed written by the same person and the whole story looks BASC led. Probably because BASC is desperately promoting gun use to children for their own future. It's offensive propoganda. What they are designed for is paramount. The gun magazines targeted by this policy are all shooting magazines that contain the killing of animals for what is a sport. They are also generally promoting and some cases selling tools designed to kill. When car magazines include images of animals killed by cars for sport or even promote cars with the intention of them being used as a weapon you may have a point. We also don't allow children to drive legally because we don't deem them mature enough to be in control of 'that' dangerous tool. It is also a tool we absolutely require. If they were only used for a small minority to run over deer I would also be calling for more restrictions on them and their promotion. There are only a handful cases seen/caught dumping waste. Not quite the same thing as it never happens. Much like the persecution of our wildlife. If the intention of someone is to hide what they do then it can sometimes be hard to provide the evidence. I don't think the RSPB controls raptors in this way Reece, do you? One is for species we see as being 'pests' and legally killed and many are not. The total lack of certain species across our nation suggests that 'control' isn't quite working. Shooters can try and act humanely but they still fail sometimes. And some are just not humane. Either way to shoot animals for fun is simply barbaric, serves no useful purpose and and is something I would never want promoted to a child. I don't remember saying 'this day and age'. It is not fully legal, the 'sport' itself is restricted. I personally would ban the shooting of animals for sport, for adults as well children but while the law stands I find it quite sensible for the magazines to be restricted. Shooting children will quite easily be able to side step this issue. My main concern is the promotion of this abomination to children who have not yet been tainted. You are clearly want to target everyone else's children and that is what I find offensive. This is not just an animal rights issue Reece and just because you've gathered all you're hunting chums does not justify your stance. I will always be pushing for tighter regulations and the proper policing of those we have. We will always have issues with guns and gun deaths as long as we have issues with people.

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  • ReeceFowler  |  November 09 2012, 4:38PM

    Human rights means free speech, which you said was "not limitless". Gun crime among legal gun owners is virtually zero. As bad as these incidents are, they account for a tiny minority, and there are plenty of existing laws to deal with it. Guns need to be kept securely, and this is a condition of a shotgun or firearm license. So you want children to get LESS guidance on shooting? Even though adults will teach them, diagrams etc in magazines are extremely helpful. Is that not better for animal welfare? If they get less guidance, they could well injure animals when shooting. The car comparison is not nonsense. You condemn shooting because of a minority of shooters. Why not condemn all car drivers because of hit and run incidents? What they are designed for is irrelevant. The point is, you cannot condemn a responsible group of people because a minority of them break the rules. This is the same for everything, whether it's driving, shooting, farming, etc. And no, it is not from the BASC website. Car magazines are mentioned on the BASC website, but it was only added after shooters started speaking out, and it is a perfectly valid point to raise. Most of it does not go to waste. There are only a handful of recorded cases of some being dumped. If you do have any spare, sell it, as demand for game is increasing. What "massive persecution"? You mean the responsible control (note "control") of predators which has no impact on the conservation status of any native predators? Control means reducing the numbers, not eradicating them. This point is stressed a lot in shooting magazines and books. It also helps vulnerable species thrive, such as black grouse, lapwing, etc . Did you know the RSPB also controls predators in a similar way? All responsible shooters do the job humanely. It can be done and it usually is. Again, this is an issue of the minority acting irresponsibly. What you are saying is that a legal activity should be discriminated against just because you and a few animal rights activists say so. Shooting is a legal activity, and should not be censored, full stop. If you don't like shooting, campaign against it. In the meantime, let people decide their own reading material. Shooting is not an abomination at all. It is not unacceptable "in this day and age" – this day and age is no different from any other.

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  • TDugg  |  November 08 2012, 11:14PM

    Human rights? The owning of a gun? Even if that is what you mean then no, as all people would have the same rights. No one is taking your guns away Reece. It's just stopping the promotion of them to children. Is it a child's right to bare arms too? Not all gun crime is committed with illegal guns. The proof of this are actually the worst examples we have. This includes the recent case in Cumbria which came after the other laws were brought in to stop further tragedies from happening. By law enforcement you mean the handing out of gun licenses, as said in my original post. The system isn't working and we have to try harder to fill these gaps. I'm not sure where you are going with criminals getting access. Many do gain access to legal guns but we also need to not only reduce illegal gun ownership through policing and increased sentences when they are found. Your logic seems to be saying if they can have them so should we. Is this for defence? Are you advocating we all get them so we can be equal and defend ourselves and our property? 'I have never once seen lions featured in shooting magazines. It would seem that this appears rarely, and only in some magazines.' But they do appear. Are all the images of the other dead animals acceptable even though they may be seen by children who have not been taught how to shoot, or shoot ethically? I agree that if children do shoot they should be taught by an adult and guided by that adult. The law stipulates they are to be supervised by an adult and I would prefer that to them picking up bits and pieces from magazines. Your point still only justifies the purchase of these magazines by children who shoot. The majority of children who do not shoot are being targeted by shooting groups and this is the issue. Children can go shooting with an adult. It is illegal for them to shoot alone. They can still access the magazines through their parents who obviously condone and support their hobby. They can purchase the magazine for them, set up a subscription or view online. This still does not justify the promotion to the majority of children who do not shoot. The car comparison is nonsense taken directly from the BASC. Cars are not designed to kill but due to their massive usage we do have many deaths related to them. When the magazines start printing photos of people killed by cars the comparison will have some validity. 'Children are unable to buy their own guns, so gun adverts are irrelevant.' Is this in relation to Gunmart? Why allow a magazine that is pretty much dedicated to selling guns to children? Even if it is just to look at pictures of guns, why allow children access this publication? These are not gun shops, these are individuals selling guns. The risk involved is massive if you have an unscrupulous seller or a fraudulent buyer. So only some of it is unethical? Much of it also goes to waste. As for estates you also have the massive issue of persecution of other animals for the benefit of the game, something regularly discussed in the RSPB magazine. You cannot guarantee a kill every shot at all, another fabrication. Certainly easier with the reared pheasants that have no clue, but wild birds and other animals move quite fast. There is ample footage proving your claim as false. You want children to see reality and see where meat comes from but not actually where 'their' meat comes from. You want to sell the idea of your sport as some sort of justified hunting although their food actually comes from a slaughterhouse that will make them a vegetarian? So not reality really. Well I don't agree with you or the law. I disagree that the legal status necessarily means you should be allowed to promote this 'sport' to children. I would generally suggest advertising the use of guns to children is undesirable and personally I don't think children should be involved with killing animals at all. Killing animals for sport also shouldn't be legal, it's an abomination.

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  • ReeceFowler  |  November 08 2012, 8:17PM

    TDugg, Free speech isn't limitless is it? So shooters should have fewer human rights than everyone else? Gun crime is committed with illegal guns. There are virtually no exceptions to this, and when they do happen, it is law enforcement that is the problem, not laws themselves. Cases of legal guns used in crime are extremely rare and account for a tiny minority of all gun crime. Furthermore, if criminals can't get legal guns, they will just get illegal guns or even other weapons. I have never once seen lions featured in shooting magazines. It would seem that this appears rarely, and only in some magazines. Children can go shooting, so they should be able to buy the magazines full stop. So what if they need to be supervised? Virtually everything children do is supervised to some extent anyway. Shooting is not alone in this respect. The fact remains that children are still able to take part in shooting. WHSmith's policy is not at all in line with our gun laws. Why shouldn't children be allowed to buy shooting magazines when legally, they can take part in shooting at any age? Besides, even if there were to be age restrictions on shooting, are they going to ban the sale of car magazines to under 17s on the same basis? Children are unable to buy their own guns, so gun adverts are irrelevant. No, shooting is an ethical form of meat production. Firstly, your argument only applies to pheasant, partridge and duck shoots. The quarry list is much bigger than that, such as wild rabbits, pigeons, etc. Secondly, it is only a minority of cases where game birds are mistreated on game farms. Some estates also use wild birds instead, and some rear their own. You can guarantee a clean kill with shooting, as long as you are not a rank amateur. You should always practice on targets before going on to animals. Most are killed instantly, the ones which aren't are quickly retrieved and despatched, and the process is still remarkably humane. Why do you think most shooters have dogs? Shooting may not be where most get their meat from, but it is still a good way to prevent children becoming detached from the reality of meat, in that it stops them seeing meat as just a product from the supermarket, and helps them remember that it is an animal which has been killed to provide them with sustenance. This attitude is a healthy one and should be encouraged. People think very differently about meat if they kill it themselves, even if they also eat shop bought meat, so, as strange as it may seem, shooting can teach respect for animal life. I have been to a slaughterhouse and while it was humane, The sights there are enough to make a meat eater vegetarian. That's why many shooters prefer to avoid shop bought meat wherever possible. Then you have pest control, which is essential for agriculture and for wildlife conservation, whether it's culling grey squirrels to help red ones, culling mink to help water voles, etc. Whether or not you agree with shooting, shooting is legal. You cannot discriminate against lawful activity. Children should be allowed to read these magazines if they wish. Who are Animal Aid to judge?

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  • TDugg  |  November 08 2012, 7:55PM

    I totally agree with the article. '"Free speech" is however not limitless.' There is a link between gun crime and legally held guns and always has been. It has improved as our laws tighten but the three biggest cases in recent British history have all been committed by licensed gun holders using legal weapons. It is simply impossible to guarantee the stability of anyone forever. Not only is the reviewing of people initially impossible to guarantee but even when something is flagged as a potential ris it still hasn't prevented them getting licenses. People change and this can easily happen between reviews which are way too long. Anyone can suffer mental illness but without question when firearms are added things can and do go tragically wrong. This is not to say all gun users will go on rampages, attack their own family or commit suicide using their own gun but these cases do happen and they happen with legally obtained firearms. To promote their use to children with such inherent risks is folly. Children under 14 can only obtain a gun license with parental permission. They are not allowed to buy, own or receive a gun or ammunition as a gift. They can only shoot under the supervision of an adult. The restriction on magazines would be in line with our laws for under 14s regarding firearms. This policy is believed to be implemented to stop the promotion of guns and in particular shooting to children. The magazines restricted all contain graphic images of dead animals including animals from hunts in Africa. I believe Gunmart was also restricted as it sells weapons, something a child certainly does not need access to. It has also been proven not to be an ethical form of meat production in a large proportion of cases. The animals are reared in the same conditions as our farm animals and are then released to be shot. Many are not killed instantly, something which we aim to achieve in our slaughterhouses. So although in some cases the birds have had a better life the way they are despatched is certainly below the standards we would deem humane for our farmed food. Most food we eat is not obtained from shoots so I am not sure what reality you think you are showing to children. I think a better place for them to see reality would be where most of their food actually comes from. A petition supporting WH Smith's restriction can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/cq39fft

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