Britain in the past 20 years has become almost unrecognisable when it comes to personal freedom. Never before have I witnessed so much government interference, regulation or indeed erosion of Liberty. Granted that unlike the United States we don’t have the luxury of having our rights written down, as an adult man I assumed it was my own job to steer my life, to do as I liked provided I didn’t hurt anyone else…….I realise now of course that this isn’t the case.
The “Offensive Weapons Bill” reminded every shooter it seems that those in government have a habit of removing freedoms when it suits them, or indeed in the pursuit of an imagined safety to appear to be doing something.
It cannot be denied that violent crime is on a sharp rise in the UK, especially in the major cities. Knives, guns, acid, cars ramming into people……these are things all being used to kill, to maim and to terrorise. Gangs are controlling large swathes of London for example, they are tooled up with illegal weaponry and are regularly using them in order to sell drugs and control territories.
So it would seem logical that government should at the very least discuss why this is happening, how it can be calmed down and ideally stamped out altogether. The problem is that legislation is largely debated and amended by people with little grasp of what’s going on or that have little understanding of firearms or weapons.
The go to response by UK government for at least the last 30 years is to ban things, now on a extremely childlike level I can see the reasoning behind this, if you make things hard to acquire (legally) then reasoning would suggest that criminals won’t have as easy access to them. What people forget however is as soon as something is made hard to get it creates a black market due to demand. An entrepreneurial criminal will see this as an opportunity to make tax free cash and will supply them, this in turn creates massive networks of people all out to outdo each other and drive prices down.
Thanks to open borders Guns are regularly coming into the UK and are being sold to anyone with the cash, no license, no vetting, no safes, just a wad of paper with the queens face on it is needed. Yes we hear about customs catching them once in a while and my heart goes out to the officers as you have been given an almost impossible task, but for every case we hear about how many make it through?
Firearms UK and my own page have been relentlessly trying to keep UK shooters up to date on the bill, when it’s being discussed, when Labour MPs add ridiculous amendments and what they are. We tirelessly post and try to organise petitions, getting shooters to converse with MPs and mount some sort of organised fight back.
What I’ve seen however is a community getting very tired of the major shooting organisations not keeping them in the loop. I’ve heard more and more shooters calling for a new organisation, a group that runs the business like it’s 2018 rather than 1988 ie actually use the internet to engage with shooters, keep them up to date as it happens, look out for all of the community not just one discipline.
And they are right.
I don’t recommend abandoning these organisations altogether as this strategically speaking is literally dismantling our own defence. The organisations that we traditionally give money to that defend shooting should still be supported but I implore any representatives reading this to take my advice, engage with your members it’s not hard to do. Hire a social media exclusive specialist if you must but mark my words if you don’t you will lose even more members.
While many have asked if Firearms UK will go public and take memberships we don’t feel this would be a good move, we are all volunteers that do it for one reason, we love shooting. We dedicate an enormous amount of our own time defending not just our own disciplines but shooting as a whole, unlike many other organisations we don’t have a power struggle, money isn’t the be all and end all and we genuinely don’t look at the sport as bitchy schoolgirls in a sorority club house. Unfortunately that’s how it feels many times dealing with those in power in the shooting world, I feel that’s a fate best avoided for FUK. I will not however rule out a completely new online organisation to take the reigns in future .
The Offensive Weapons bill has had quite an effect however on the community as a whole, shooters who for years that have been left alone all of a sudden realised what I’ve just said, ridiculous amendments like:
“Banning the use of air rifles for under 18s on private land”
“All DEACS to be made EU standard at your own expense”
“Banning 22LR semi auto rifles”
“Shotgun cartridges put on license”
All just made shooters realise that under their very noses their sport was under threat and nobody was updated, nobody was told by those who are paid to fight.
.50cals and MARS rifles are almost certain to be banned however as police have wanted these gone for quite a while so why not tack on these firearms to a bill designed to stop people throwing acid in victims faces………yes I know it’s a big leap.
I’ve been saying it for a while now but shooters have to get politically active, I joined the Libertarian Party UK this year after attending their conference. While I regularly get scorn from some “shooters” it matters little. The main parties do not represent me in any way, they are authoritarian and against everything I believe in. So I give my support, advice and knowledge of firearms to a small party with the right ideas on freedom, personal responsibility and individual liberty. Can we win a general election in the near future? Lol no I don’t see it. What can happen however is to grow. A movement takes someone to start the momentum, if you want change you have to play the game.
While I’m sure I’m many old school shooters worst nightmare (an opinionated journo that’s pro shooting and has Libertarian ideals) I’m afraid they have been quiet for too long, the “dignified silence” stratagem doesn’t work, we’ve tried that and it failed repeatedly. If you would like to help great, if you want to give me your opinion then even better I love debate and discussion. Let’s work together to achieve something that has been out of reach for decades now, a sensible conversation on firearms, ownership and shooting sport. Alternatively you can remain seated tutting and rolling your eyes, it’s up to you.
For any libertarians reading this I will be in attendance at the upcoming conference in Milton Keynes, if you can make it get a ticket and I would love to chat about this further with you. Perhaps a cold pint of IPA and a relaxed setting could be the perfect catalyst for some productive discussion, debate or even just a bit of craic.
Hopefully I will see you there, let’s unite as shooters, let’s promote the sport, let’s grow our numbers. One thing is for certain however we all need to do our part otherwise you won’t have a sport to promote.