Keep gun magazines away from children!

Posted on the 12th September 2013

National Anti-Shooting Week targets WHSmith

Animal Aid’s ‘Battle Bus’ – a converted ambulance emblazoned with stark protest imagery and messages – will soon be travelling the country as part of a national campaign to have violent shooting magazines moved to the ‘top shelf’, and their sale restricted to over-18s.

Outlets such as WHSmith stock magazines that depict the killing of animals for pleasure, and place them within reach of children. Animal Aid supporters will be leafleting outside WHSmith stores during National Anti-Shooting Week (16-22 September), calling on shoppers to support the campaign aims.

Publications, such as Shooting TimesSporting GunSporting Shooter and Sporting Rifle, encourage and even celebrate the killing of animals, and serve as front-line propagandists for the gun lobby’s drive to encourage more children to take up this ‘sport’. Shooters are featured posing boastfully alongside animals they have just slaughtered. Grinning young children are shown holding up or standing over shot pheasants, rabbits, foxes and pigeons.

A public opinion poll, commissioned by Animal Aid in 2012, showed that the vast majority of people want these magazines consigned to newsagents’ top shelves alongside material of explicit sexual content. They also back a ban on their sale to under-18s.1

Despite the gun lobby crowing that they had forced WHSmith to abandon its ‘till prompt’ policy that is intended to prohibit the sale of gun magazines to under-14s, WHSmith recently reiterated that the till prompt is still in operation. However, when tested, children as young as nine years old were able to purchase them without challenge.2

Says Animal Aid Director, Andrew Tyler

‘Despite an overwhelming majority of poll respondents backing our call to impose an age restriction on violent pro-shooting publications, retailers like WHSmith continue to make them available to young people. Such magazines attempt to normalise the brutality visited upon animals in the name of sport, and treat them as mere objects to be shot at and killed. It’s a damaging and negative message to send out to young people.’

The Animal Aid ‘Battle Bus’ will visit the following locations:

  • 16 September: Oxford
  • 17 September: Cambridge
  • 18 September: Norwich
  • 19 September: Peterborough
  • 20 September: York
  • 21 September: Darlington

Additional information

Read the till prompt statement from WHSmith

—– Original Message —–
From: head of customer services
To: (email address removed)
Sent: Thursday, August 22, 2013 2:00 PM
Subject: WHSmith Customer Relations reference SR 2441425

Dear (name removed)

Thank you for your recent email addressed to our Group Chief Executive, Stephen Clarke, expressing your concerns about our range of Shooting Magazines. As Customer Service Team Manager, I have been asked to reply to you.

Customers often have strongly differing views about the products we sell, so we aim to strike the right balance to meet the needs of all our customers. Our objective is to offer customers choice, whilst also respecting their views and we continually monitor customer feedback.

We take our responsibilities for the products we sell very seriously. Our Marketing Code of Conduct sets out the standards we follow in our promotional activity, marketing and advertising. The principles outlined in the Code inform our actions, from product design and development, to the way that products are positioned and promoted in store. Our code of conduct can be found at:http://www.whsmithplc.co.uk/corporate_responsibility/our_policies/.

We do have an age prompt of 14 years or over on our tills for shooting titles, based on this being the legal age at which someone can possess a firearms certificate.

With such a wide range of products on offer and the variety of differing opinions our customers hold, unfortunately we are not able to alter our displays to reflect each and every different view. With that in mind and to try and strike a balance, we focus on the appropriate display of titles carrying legal age restrictions or those which contain language or imagery that could be considered to be indecent (for example, repeated bad language or full nudity).

If you happen to find a title that you feel contains overly graphic imagery, I would urge you to contact the publishers of the title directly.

I hope this letter has gone some way to provide you with information in response to your concerns. We will continue to monitor customer feedback and thank you for contacting us.

Yours sincerely
Denise Hughes
Customer Service Team Manager

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