As many of you will be aware I recently attended the Libertarian Party UK 2018 Conference in London. The Conference provided an opportunity for Firearms UK to engage with a growing party in UK politics and hopefully represent our supporters and the UK shooting community positively and to reach people outside of our community.
For those not familiar with the Libertarian Party the party describes its mission as
“The Party aims to further the libertarian cause by:
(a) bringing to greater public awareness libertarian philosophy;
(b) encouraging and supporting libertarian …political activity within the legal framework of the
(c) pursuing policies which seek at all times to minimise state intervention in the lives of citizens;
(d) legally codifying and protecting the rights of citizens, now and into the future, through such
measures as introducing a formal Constitution and Bill of Rights within the United Kingdom;
(e) not making any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or
for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion; and shall ensure that no religious test be
required as a qualification for any public office within the United Kingdom.”
Arriving at the conference for the afternoon session I was greeted by several party members and officials who were very friendly and immediately put to rest any reservations I had about addressing the audience. Indeed the immediate vibe was there were a lot of people looking forward to a speech on gun ownership in the UK. It was also great to finally meet shooting journalist and fellow campaigner Mike Lindsay face to face.
(Mike and Dave)
The session began with presentations and speeches from party officials and candidates, which were very interesting, thought provoking and witty.
There was a short break where I got to speak with a few people including a member who was already a supporter of us. The session continued with the guest speakers, who covered a variety of topics.
When it came to my turn to speak I must admit I panicked a little as I had started to feel a little light headed (likely due to not having eaten much that morning!) but I managed to compose myself and once onstage began the presentation.
Within the presentation I covered the following topics
- The problems you will be faced with being pro-gun
- a suggestion for a Firearms Policy and A self defence policy with the emphasis that although they could be related they should be treated differently with the focus on being honest but non-specific to avoid any unneeded controversy.
- Challenging some of the most commonly held myths around firearms ownership
- Examples of other nations laws that the media wont refer to
- Facts and figures
This was followed by a question and answer session from the audience
I was asked some very pertinent questions on the subject which I appreciated as they were all very well presented and relevant to the discussion. One of my favourites was a Second Amendment Activist from the US who was happy to hear some common sense being talked about in the UK! Another good question was on the effect gun ownership would have on suicide.
If you missed the conference you can watch our section here and find the rest of the conference via the LPUK facebook page. The audio is a little low at the start and unfortunately it cuts off the last few questions
The session broke for another break after my presentation which gave me an opportunity to speak with some of the audience members again personally. This was something I really enjoyed and there was some really positive feedback which is fantastic to hear.
There was also further opportunity to engage with members in the pub afterwards(best place for discussions)
As for the Libertarian Party itself, whilst Firearms UK will always strive to remain neutral however we feel it is our duty to engage with parties and inform members of their policies and give an opinion. We will do this positively and negatively with the focus being solely on their policy relating to what directly affects our interests.
I personally feel that the Libertarian Party does represent an opportunity for the shooting community to have a voice that will fairly represent it. Party officials and members were very respectful about our interests and did listen to many of the points we made and the Libertarian point of view is one that I suspect would appeal to many firearms owners, indeed many people said whilst they had no interest in Firearms they recognised that we have been discriminated against and that laws should be based on evidence not knee-jerk reactions and exploiting public ignorance. Overall a very commonsense and pragmatic outlook
We have recently seen the Conservative Government move to ban certain firearms because of what terrorists “might do” if they get a hold of them from legal gun owners( Never mind that the IRA managed to get .50 cal and AKs/AR15s illegally as have several terrorist cells in Europe), the same party that banned handguns and SLRS.
Labour also seem to be a party against our community and of course finished the handgun ban.
Whilst there are occasional M.Ps and members of other parties who will seem supportive of gun ownership(Nigel Farage of UKIP for example)
overall I am unaware of any party that would come close to committing to evidence based review/reform of our laws.
So with this in mind I would suggest our supporters at the very least look into the Libertarian Party. There may be some constituencies where the shooting vote can make a real difference and it may be time to look at something different to traditional parties that can only be relied upon to let us down.
Thank you to the Libertarian Party for inviting us to the conference and giving us the opportunity to engage with members.