Hi Everyone, apologies for the lack of content recently, as usual real life often gets in the way of all the fun stuff.
Some of you may have already been aware due to some of the content on our social media pages(and my personal one if you are on it) that I have been travelling Europe for a month. I decided to go before I was too old and I have to say it was a great experience solo travelling, meeting new people, sightseeing and partying! I would recommend it to anyone. However it wasn’t all just about drinking and having a good time I did also want to broaden my horizons and find out a bit more about other nations and their history. I also took the opportunity to embrace the sensible firearms laws of other nations and shoot some of the things that we are not allowed to do here.
So in this blog I hope to share my experiences and my insights/opinions of other nations compared to the UK. I imagine a lot of this will be familiar to Firearms owners but it is always the hope that it reaches out to non-shooters to show that we are normal people just like them and that rational reform of firearms legislation wont lead to Armageddon and there are modern day European examples of that. There are other issues concerning liberty and morality that I wish to touch on and I hope it makes everyone question the system we have in the UK and the agendas behind it.
My second week of travelling took me to the Czech Republic.
It was here that I managed to tick a few more items off the bucket list by shooting a 9mm Walther P1, a Springfield 1911 in .45 ACP and a Ruger .357 revolver.
I had previously shot a modern 9mm pistol in Poland before however I have an interest in early to mid 20th century firearms so when I had the chance to shoot the Walther p1(P.38) I definitely wanted to try it. I must admit pistol shooting really isn’t as easy as they make it look in films shooting at 10m sounds like nothing but in reality it was quite a challenge. Moving on to the 1911 I was expecting it to have much more kick than the 9mm, however it was actually much easier for me to shoot due to it being a heavier pistol and a slower cartridge.
After the .45 I went on to the .357 revolver and again it was an absolute pleasure to shoot.
I could easily have spent more time at the range however I was running to a budget and was very happy to simply have this brief experience. The staff at the range were friendly and professional and safety was priority.
My final week was in Poland where I was very lucky to spend some time on the range with the president of Firearms United Network if you aren’t familiar with Firearms United please check them out as they do a lot of wonderful work at the European level as well as with their own national chapters, they are a fantastic resource for facts and figures and worthy of supporting. They are also on Facebook so give them a like!
Tomasz was an excellent host and kindly donated a Firearms United T-shirt for us to give away in a competition which we will be running soon.
Anyway, here I shot a 9mm and .45 USP which again were great fun before Tomasz gave me a very special treat by letting me shoot his vintage Radom Vis 35 9mm Pistol. As this pistol is from an era I am particularly interested in it was a real surprise and I’m genuinely grateful to have experienced this wonderful piece of history. (it was a nice little shooter too)
The surprises kept coming as I then got to shoot a Daniel Defence AR15 in .223 and then a Polish variant of the Ak47. So again another couple of firsts for me.
Ak47 handiwork on a not very PC target.
It was also an interesting experience shooting targets based on possible real world threats that the UK police or security forces might have to tackle (or in free countries law abiding citizens themselves) and again it is something I think many people should try because trying to hit a stationary target at 10m was a challenge itself, I cannot imagine the difficulty trying to shoot a moving target high on adrenaline whilst real lives are at stake. You often hear people say “shoot them in the leg” well its really not that simple. I also think that UK police and security forces would benefit from a lifting on the bans on Pistols and S.L.Rs to simply allow them to legally get more range time alongside experienced civilian shooters off duty because frankly they probably do not get enough time at the range on duty and civilians will no doubt put a lot more lead down range than your average armed cop (unless he also shoots), of course improving public safety and putting money into the coffers of the treasury is too sensible.
Just I thought the smile on my face couldn’t get any bigger that is when I was shown the .44 Magnum revolver. I had heard horror stories from people who bought these pistols after Dirty Harry first came out and quickly sold them after being uncomfortable to shoot, any concerns of it being painful were blown clean away after my first shot as it was also a very pleasant and fun firearm to shoot.
All in all it was a great experience and I have to ask myself Do I Feel Lucky? Hell yeah I do!
The serious bit
Anyway that is all the fun stuff covered and now I’d like to share with you what I took away from my experiences.
The first thing is handgun shooting is great fun with a lot of variety and skill involved and it is really baffling that it cannot be done in the mainland UK, the same with shooting self loading rifles. Both activities are carried out daily on the continent and parts of the UK with no issues at all. Indeed in these nations you can often legally carry a firearm for personal protection after going through certain checks, you can also purchase tasers, pepper sprays and other less lethal items for personal protection and yes even carry a knife! I didn’t see chaos in the streets or criminals using these items to attack people. Indeed I felt much safer there than in parts of the UK and if I didn’t feel safe it was refreshing to know I could legally purchase and carry something that would reassure me and perhaps give me a chance if anything untoward were to happen. Again one has to ask the question why successive UK Governments treat the lives of its subjects with such contempt. I also need to ask why people don’t wake up and ask this very same question.
Now I wont say that carrying anything will reduce crime, I am saying it doesn’t cause crime,it gives victims a chance and could deter criminals . The UK Government continues to target law abiding people whilst not doing enough to empower them and target criminals,(one would think they don’t want to reduce crime as otherwise they wouldn’t be able to pass all their authoritarian laws). FYI homicide rate in Czech is 0.61, Poland is 0.67 and the UK is 1.2 (NI is 0.91 and you can own handguns there too). So surely if, as the Home Office states(without evidence) that issuing Firearms Certificates for self defence and allowing the carriage of personal protective equipment would lead to an increase in violence then the Czech Republic and Poland should have higher homicide rates than the UK?
The second thing I took away is that many of the countries I visited have suffered for years under authoritarian regimes with many only getting independence in the early 20th century to then be occupied by the Nazis then Soviet back communist/socialist regimes. I visited many areas and read about the history of such nations where people could be expected to be visited by the state security bureau in the dead of night and have their fathers taken from them simply for speaking out against the regime. I also visited places where people were rounded up like cattle and killed because of their religion(after being disarmed and dehumanised first).
It is within living memory for many people of these countries just what it is like to live under tyrannical regimes where exercising the basic human right of freedom of speech could get you sentenced to hard labour, imprisonment or worse so I suspect that is why many value the freedoms that people in the UK will so readily give away.
The third thing I took away was the real common sense of these nations laws, they made it easy for people to be introduced to various firearms in a friendly and fun yet well supervised environment. It doesn’t involve as much of the red tape or hurdles to jump over here to allow someone to casually introduce a friend to shooting and it alongside many of these nations laws are something I think the UK shooting community should look to embrace. Shooting is often a dirty little secret and I believe a lot of the red tape is simply to make it difficult for people who might be interested to get started or for clubs to start them.
The fourth and final thing I took away is that in my opinion the UK is descending very rapidly down a slippery slope of authoritarianism where wrong-think is punished, where the state or other insidious groups want to assume control over you and will crush dissent or any questioning on it’s agenda or system. OK so the police might not drag you from your bed in the dead of night, but as we have seen they can come and remove your firearms for challenging the official line. We live in a nation where tasteless tweets can get you into imprisoned, where people are assaulting political opponents and celebrities endorse it. We are seeing people such as the shooting community and others being dehumanised and robbed of their basic rights.
OK we might not get sent to work in salt mines but often many of us are comfortable we work hard and generally have a good life and these days it is the threat of losing that which keeps people from questioning things. However I urge you, stand up ask questions challenge the system and its motives.
I will end on this note directed to non-shooters and supporters of the tyranny of the majority, I encourage you to look at other nations and what works there, look at history, question things, question yourself. Is it moral that you use force and threats to get people to conform to your ideals? more laws are not always beneficial and look at the consequences of your silent consent to allowing authoritarians into power or even supporting their agendas if they coincide with your beliefs because one day these powers can and will be used against you. There are some really nasty people out there who want to dictate to you how to live you life and unless you stand up for the liberty of the individual you will be affected.
“The secret of freedom lies in educating people, whereas the secret of tyranny is in keeping them ignorant.”