Since I was about three, firearms have always been present in my chosen hobbies and entertainment. I grew up watching Robocop, playing games such as Grand Theft Auto and spent endless hours playing with my father in endless shootouts in which we used several BB and Poundland calibre toy guns. Great memories. Guns and shooting have been somewhat integral to my life and growing up, but while growing up I never really thought about actual guns being legal in the UK, whether they were or not. I never really gave it any thought. Well this changed around Year 10 in my comprehensive school. What was it that made me actually start to think about real world guns and the laws that surrounded them in my country? The answer is a little documentary you may have heard of that I had the pleasure of viewing in my English class. The documentary being Bowling For Columbine.
Yes, that’s the one. This documentary was a welcome change to sitting at a desk writing out endless paragraphs about Mice of Men and other books that I just wasn’t that keen on. I and the rest of the class were more fascinated by the second. We were hooked and enthralled! I had always loved American culture and had a vague idea of what their gun culture was. I basically pictured a bunch of rednecks with shotguns. We were presented with a well-spoken man, you could even say he had a charm about him, had a decent sense of humour. Soon enough though our enthusiasm soon turned to fear and disgust. We had just been shown a school shooting, students, like us, getting gunned down by other students. Screams for help, crying, begging. It was horrible.
Mr Moore went on to show us just how easy it is for anyone to go out and buy a gun. Showing us a compilation of what looked to be consequences of having such freedom. When this documentary finished all the class were left with the same thoughts. Thank god our country does not allow people to own guns. Americans are psychopaths. How is this legal? Americans need these guns taken away! It may surprise some to find that at this age, I was extremely anti-gun. Hell, I even thought the sensible thing to do was have the US Army force their way into citizens homes and take away these guns by force because as the documentary showed these people cannot be trusted with such weapons.
So how did I come from such extreme ideas and thoughts to becoming a gun toting, freedom loving and shooting enthusiast. Well, some years later my dad purchased an air rifle. A Webley .22 spring powered air rifle, I jumped at the chance to go out and do some plinking. I wasn’t too concerned as it was just a stronger version of a BB gun in my mind. After my first try, I was hooked. I was a crack shot. This then leads to me asking my father about the legality of firearms in the UK to which he told me had several friends with shotguns. I was intrigued. This lead me to have an interest in politics, both in the UK and USA. I started coming across videos that were telling me directly the opposite of everything that I had been told about US gun ownership and better yet that there was apparently benefits! It was a hard pill to swallow but I was all the better for it. I decided to take a trip down memory lane and revisit Bowling For Columbine.
Now older and wiser, I realised I had been somewhat conned. I had been told only one side of the story. But how did I fall for it so hard? Well, Michael Moore seemed to come from a neutral standpoint. He admits himself that he came from a gun loving state and had even won several awards in target shooting himself. So it didn’t seem like a biased viewpoint. Moore did make some good points but when watching through again with a more open mind, I realised that Moore was manipulating the audience. No matter what the problem or incident, he brought the blame straight back to guns and gun owners who stood by their gun rights. Case and point, he somehow makes Charlton Heston the villain of the picture. And attempts to shame him by connecting him to the shooting of a young child, as if he is somehow to blame. We were shown large crowds of angry anti-gun parents. We had no idea there were pro gun parents. Why would we?
I think back to how I was brought up in school and it doesn’t take me long to realise why so much of our British youth have grown up with an irrational fear of gun ownership and warped view of American crime and US gun law. The majority of our youth are being taught a very one sided story and where can they turn to hear anyo their viewpoint to even know there is one? The BBC? Any British television news network that no matter what the story or report, paints firearms and shooting in a negative light? Thankfully there is an answer. The answer being, the internet. The same answer that allowed me and so many others to see the other side of the argument and we must use it to the best of our abilities as it is very possibly the strongest weapon we have in our arsenal to defeat ignorance on guns and shooting. Our youth are key to changing UK gun law for the better, let’s make sure they hear more than what they are being taught by their schools and British media. Lets make sure they hear and learn the truth.