What her policy is on the designation of (a) target sports clubs where historical pistols are studied and shot and (b) other target sports clubs.
Clubs that wish to keep and use historical pistols and weapons must have Home Office authorisation. There are strict criteria governing the designation of sites under the Firearms (Amendment) Act 1997, which are set out in the guidance issued by the Home Office.
Northampton target sports club is based in my constituency. A number of members wish to study and shoot historic pistols of some worth but are struggling with the licensing regime because they are within 30 miles of another licensed club. Will the Minister help us with that query and help to sort this out?
I understand my hon. Friend’s concern. I am aware that the Northampton target sports club was refused designated-site status last month because there were other suitable sites within a reachable distance. I also understand that circumstances may have changed because another site is full. Therefore, a new application will be looked at properly.
Will the Minister give as much support as possible to the wonderful Olympic sport of pistol shooting, which suffers terribly from some of the rather knee-jerk legislation that went through
this place some time ago? Will he ensure that pistol shooters are given every support possible to train in this country so that they do not have to go abroad to Switzerland to train for the Olympics?
I know of the hon. Lady’s long-standing concern. The Government seek to draw the distinction between the unlawful use of weapons, which we aim to deal with as robustly as possible, and the lawful possession of such weapons. We have the tightest set of firearms controls in the world, but sporting shooting, particularly in relation to the Olympics, is of course important.