"I USED to send 100 rifles per week," says the owner of Blue Moon Trading, who partly blames falling trade on a Government ban on traders sending weaponry by mail order.

The Goodramgate shop is to close in the next couple of months because its owner Stuart Sykes is retiring.

He told The Press he was approaching 73 and didn’t want 'to die in here’, and said his departure was nothing to do with the repeated criticisms of the shop.

He said he had originally opened elsewhere in the street some 17 years ago, moving to the current premises 11 years ago, and trade had fallen over the years because of changes in society.

He said he had been badly hit by a Government ban some years ago on traders like him from sending weaponry by mail order. “I used to send 100 rifles per week.”

The shop has been repeatedly panned for its sale of weaponry such as crossbows and imitation guns.

Mr Sykes said controversy over his business ‘goes with the territory - we are never going to be flavour of the month’.

Asked how he would have reacted if one of his crossbows had been used to injure or kill someone, he spoke of the number of murders committed with kitchen knives, adding: “I can’t be everyone’s father.”

Mr Sykes said he owned the building’s freehold and would be selling it as a vacant property, rather than selling the business as a going concern.

The shop’s closure comes just a couple of months after York Central MP Rachael Maskell called for the Government to crack down on the sale of lethal crossbow weapons after The Press explored how easy it was to get hold of them both online and from shops such as Blue Moon.

Mr Sykes said then that he fully supported restrictions meaning crossbows of any size could not be sold to anyone under 18.

Ms Maskell said yesterday it was ‘with little sorrow’ that she noted the closing of the shop, which she claimed had 'sold dangerous as well as fascist items’.

She said: “A few weeks on from Armed Forces Day, I am pleased that there will no longer be Nazi T-shirts on sale on the streets of York. Fascism has no place in our city or society.”

The shop also hit the headlines for causing upset among passers-by for displaying T-shirts emblazoned with the official Nazi state insignia in its window.

Former City of York Council leader James Alexander is another senior politician who has previously slated the shop.

The Labour councillor voiced his outrage on Twitter in 2012 over clothing it was selling, made to resemble T-shirts sold by rock bands when on world tours, which carried the slogan: “Adolf Hitler’s tour of Europe.’

Underneath it said destinations England and Russia had been “cancelled”, in reference to Hitler’s failed attempts to conquer both countries during the Second World War.

At the time Cllr Alexander branded the store “sick” and a “disgraceful shop’, saying it gave a terrible impression,

Mr Sykes said at the time that if the councillor had had the common sense to read the T-shirt, he would have seen it was not promoting Hitler but ‘making fun of him’.