Licence to kill - GCN proposes new law to license those who wish to kill birds and animals

by on 01-06-2023

Every year in the UK some 60 million game birds are released for shooting —around 47 million pheasants, 12 million red-legged partridges and 700,000 grouse. A great deal of money, time and effort goes into making it possible for men (and it is mainly men) to pay up to £1000 a day to shoot and kill these birds for fun – BUT, without needing to have a gun licence. This barbaric practice should have absolutely no place in a civilized society.

At a time when the world is facing severe challenges to climate and biodiversity, the effect of this sort of commercial shooting on both wildlife and the natural environment is devastating. As more and more birds are reared and released to be shot at each year, larger and larger areas of privately-owned heather and scrub are burnt to create a moorland monoculture. Valuable underlying peat, essential for carbon capture and storage, is damaged along with the destruction of wildlife habitats needed by native insects, birds and mammals. It is shocking that nothing is allowed to stand in the way of those wielding a gun for fun. 

Current firearms legislation allows anyone to shoot birds and animals using a licensed gun. The person who holds and fires the gun does not have to have a licence. GCN is proposing a change in the law which would require anyone who wishes to shoot birds and animals to acquire a licence to do so. 

Such a change would bring meaningful control to an industry covered by largely unenforceable legislation which, whilst prohibiting the killing of rare birds, does nothing to prevent wholesale cruelty and environmental vandalism. 

Gill Marshall-Andrews Chair of the Gun Control Network says:

"This loophole in our gun laws allows anyone, including those who have had gun licences refused or revoked, to join a shoot and use someone else's licensed gun to kill birds and animals. The wholesale import of beautiful birds for the sole purpose of killing them is obscene. Anyone can join a shoot if they have enough money and enjoy killing beautiful creatures. Surely this has to stop! One simple way to curb this barbaric activity is to require everyone involved to have a licence. This is what GCN is calling for.”

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