CAMPAIGNERS have urged the NEC to cancel a national gun and shooting exhibition with free entrance for under-16s – in the midst of a firearms crime wave.
The Great British Shooting Show exhibition is set for the NEC in February and it has already caused major controversy.
As we reported, hunting safari companies – some offering the chance to shoot endangered species – were set to be staged until NEC bosses cancelled them, caving under intense pressure.
Now, after welcoming the initial victory, Green Party councillors in Solihull have issued a call for the whole event to be scrapped.
Solihull Green councillor Max McLoughlin said: “Whilst we welcome the news that some of the ‘trophy hunting’ stalls have been pulled from the shooting show, there are still serious problems with the event.
“The organisers are inviting children under 16 in for free.
“This is while the West Midlands has one of the highest rates of firearms offences in the country.
“It’s highly irresponsible to be normalising and glamourising guns to children from such a young age.
“These are deadly weapons that destroy human and animal life. They are not for entertainment.
“The NEC needs to show some responsibility and cancel this event.”
The event’s website states: “Visitors can see a vast range of shotguns, rifles, pistols, air rifles, airsoft, (RIF), optics, including specialised night vision and thermal imaging devices, hunting knives, bushcraft, wildfowling, gundog equipment, historical arms collections, gunsmith and engraving demonstrations.”
Coun McLouglin drew attention to the rate of violent and serious crime in the West Midlands skyrocketing over the last few years.
The latest available figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show that at the end of 2018, violent crime has risen by 29 per cent on 2017.
The West Midlands has the highest rate of crimes involving firearms (per 100,000 people) in the country.
Latest figures for gun crime up to the end of March last year show that there were 24 offences per 100,000 people, the same as London.
And this also equates to more than a 10 per cent rise on the previous year.
Solihull Green Party councillor Mark Wilson tweeted: “I find it incredible that the NEC can even contemplate putting this show on in the light of the violent crime figures in the West Midlands.”
The NEC said of the trophy-hunting stalls cancellation: “The NEC continues to be a venue that permits a wide range of content.
“However, we are also a business that is built around its customers and therefore listens to them.
“We fully understand concerns regarding the activities of some British Shooting Show exhibitors and have acted.
“Taking these concerns and the safety of staff and visitors into consideration, we will be removing exhibitors that practice safari hunting from the Show in February.”
We have invited The Great British Shooting Show to comment specifically about the Greens’ call to cancel the entire event.
It due to take place between February 14 and 16.
THE SHOW SAYS:
The show released this statement on its website yesterday: “The British Shooting Show will always support the promotion of shooting and regulated hunting as sports and recreational activities, where they are carried out ethically and within the law.
“The British Shooting Show will always support good practices, and ethically and environmentally managed shooting and sporting activities that promote the highest standards to those who participate in them.
“The British Shooting Show has not banned any individual or organisation and will not do so unless it is legally obliged to do so.
“The British Shooting Show recognises that there are those who oppose, for their own reasons, the activities of others.
“The British Shooting Show is content to recognise the rights of third parties to oppose hunting, shooting and gun ownership, but maintains the right of all participants in regulated hunting and shooting sports to go about their lawful legal activities.
“Wherever possible, the British Shooting Show will consider all representations made to it and provide a platform for peaceful and meaningful discussion of all relevant issues.”