Stuart Farr offers a scoop of advice to help businesses enjoy a ‘fab’ 2020.

An ethical approach to business will be the best way to make sure there are treats for the industry in 2020

February! Looking ahead to the month, for many it’s a nondescript month spent preparing for future events to come. Its name is derived from the Latin word “februum” meaning purification and apart from mentioning the obvious – it has fewer days than any of the other month – there isn’t a lot to say about February…or is there?

Last month, we took a peek at the epiphany, the twelfth night after Christmas. Striving again to find something to keep me going during the winter period I happened upon an unusual celebration which started in the USA during the 1960s.

Ice-cream For Breakfast Day is commonly celebrated in the US on the first Saturday of February – and what better occasion, I suggest, than to participate in a bit of brain-freeze to clear out the cobwebs and get the old grey matter focused on the months ahead.

Many of you will be ahead of the game already – all fresh and invigorated from the Shot Show in late January and with the Great British Shooting Show just around the corner.

Others, however, prefer to warm up with the seasons and don’t get into full swing until the Spring. Either way is good but still, February is a good time to take stock, prepare and purify.

Purification can take many different forms and doesn’t necessarily require any degree of penance through monastic self-flagellation with a birch. It could be something simple like tidying up the shop front, updating your website, clearing out unwanted stock, booking onto events or simply adjusting your business plan and finances in preparation for the year ahead. Whatever suits you and your business the best. 

Traders and dealers in the UK must now get used to EU Directives being implemented due to a delayed Brexit

Of course, the gun trade has to put up with more than its fair share of regulatory demands. The changes to the dealers’ registration requirements is no exception to that. EU law still applies and we are still in the process of adopting and implementing a number of EU measures supposedly designed to control the acquisition and possession of firearms.

All essential components of a firearm are now required to be marked and consequently the particulars which need to be entered into dealers’ registered have changed so as to ensure that for all firearms manufactured after 14 September 2018, a record of those additional unique markings on each component part is maintained.

In addition, the Firearms Regulations 2019 (which came into force on 12 December 2019) introduced new laws regarding the possession and transfer of de-activated weapons so as to comply with EU Directive 2017/853.

The 2019 Regulations now require that transfers of deactivated firearms are formally notified to the Home Office. The primary obligation is on the person making the transfer and an offence is committed if a notification is not provided either before or as soon as practicable after the transfer. The notification must provide the following:

  • A description of the deactivated firearm (including make, calibre, and serial number)
  • Full details of the name and address of the person making the transfer
  • Details of the person to whom the deactivated firearm has been (or will be) transferred.

The Home Office website contains forms which can now be downloaded and used for this purpose. The notifications can be delivered either by email or post to a designated home office address. Of course, it doesn’t require you to eat very much ice-cream for breakfast to spot the obvious problems with this new ‘system’.

Firstly, very little has been said about what will be done with all of this personal data. Importantly, given that a vast quantity of the deactivated guns in circulation are in private hands and effectively already ‘off grid’ it rather begs the question who is going to know who has bought what and from whom and when.

The Home Office has not made it clear what happens to data collected by new regulations (©TheDigitalArtist)

The owner of the odd piece frankly isn’t going to be aware of these new regulations or, for that matter, even bothered they exist at all. Realistically anyone ignorant of the changes and wishing to get rid of a deactivated weapon is more likely to sell it on the quiet to their mate down the pub and who will be the wiser? 

It is therefore going to take years (if not even decades) for many deactivated firearms to pop up on this system – unless, of course, these regulations are just a precursor to a full and proper licensing regime, the very thought of which makes me shudder. In the meantime, I am scratching my head to understand what it hopes to achieve.

I am generally not one to applaud the rhetoric of others, but after a year of frustration (which I have little doubt has been shared by many within the gun trade) I was heartened to see the message being propounded by one particular shooting organisation at the start of 2020. If purification isn’t the task for February, then maybe something a little bit more ‘puritanical’ will be your cup of tea.

As we explore in How’s Business, at the start of 2020, Eoghan Cameron, Chairman of BASC, rallied the shooting industry for the year ahead. He called on shooters to “take the fight to the enemies of shooting as never before.” 

Slightly reminiscent of Churchill’s “fight them on the beaches” speech I think but to be honest any improvement in the way the shooting industry has faced the problems it encountered in the last 12 months would be welcome.

Much to my relief also the proverbial penny finally seems to have dropped as to how an improved image might be achieved. It all comes down to a short and simple word. Ethics. 

I have written in this column about ethics many times and I have worked with sports organisations to help them weave a culture of ethical behaviour into the fabric of their organisation. Ethics goes beyond the law or legal compliance.

It is all about holding the mirror in front of oneself and doing the right thing. Demonstrating that you are, in fact, behaving ethically is half of the battle won. Giving space to those who can’t or won’t behave ethically only provides the opponents of shooting with the ammunition they need to win their side of the argument.

Being a key note speech it is understandable there’s no detailed mention as to how these objectives could be met. We shall see. I’ll happily buy the fella breakfast if he can translate his words into something both achieved and tangible…provided he orders two scoops of Neapolitan of course!


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