The UK’s largest shooting organisation, the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC), has condemned plans by Royal Mail to ban the transportation of guns and their component parts.
These have been managed for many years in a safe and secure way with no evidence of firearms or their components falling into the wrong hands.
Royal Mail says it is consulting on changes to its terms and conditions that will ensure that they are consistent with relevant firearms legislation. Royal Mail is proposing that all firearms, including guns for sporting use, as well as their component parts, are prohibited under its terms and conditions.
The association will fight the proposals, which are outlined in a consultation document launched this week.
If the proposals go ahead, consumers and traders will no longer be able to use Royal Mail postal services to send firearms or component parts.
The proposals extend to component parts and accessories that are not regulated by firearms legislation. That would mean that people who shoot could no longer buy a range of accessories such as firearm furniture, magazines, fastenings and triggers by post.
Under the proposals, Parcelforce Worldwide, which is part of the Royal Mail Group, and other carriers would continue to carry firearms and component parts but only between Registered Firearms Dealers.
BASC has scrutinised the consultation document and has found the Royal Mail claims to be flawed, legally incorrect and not evidence-led.
The consultation document states that Royal Mail is concerned as it is unable to guarantee the safe custody of firearms during carriage within the meaning of section 14 (1) of the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988. It says that in order to provide safe custody it would be required to set up a dedicated handling system and conveyance pipeline.
However, the legislation does not refer to a guarantee, it refers to “reasonable precautions” for the safe custody of firearms and ammunition.
Royal Mail has stated that it expects the impact of these proposals on customers to be minimal. There are more than one million shooters in the UK. Many of them live in the countryside and rely on the post instead of travelling long distances to take guns for repair or to buy accessories. These proposals will have a significant impact.
Christopher Graffius, BASC’s director of communications, said: "These proposals are quite ridiculous. Guns have been efficiently and effectively carried in the post for years. We are unaware of any occasions when this has led to crimes being committed and we find it extraordinary that a law abiding section of society should be discriminated against by a public service in this way."
Bill Harriman, BASC’s director of firearms, said: “This is a solution to a problem that does not exist. Without any evidence you wonder why we are doing it. Having gone through this process in 2005 when it was knocked on the head by the regulator, one wonders why Royal Mail is doing it again.”
BASC is calling on its members to respond to the public consultation by the closing date of 17th September. The consultation document can be found here.