The Dry Rot In The Shooting Community

For too long now people that shoot for sport here in the UK have had a tough time, from politicians trying to score points with an uninformed electorate at the expense of the FAC holder – to a media that love to perpetuate the idea that nobody should have guns. Little by little shooters have sat back and watched silently as more and more of their freedoms have been stripped away, as more and more regulations have been put on them and their sport.

Too often I’ve seen a splintered shooting community that doesn’t band together and fight back, that stay silent and say nothing for fear of losing their FAC but even worse still I’ve seen “pro-gun journalists” bow down to the relentless anti-gun propaganda and call for even more red tape to drown in.

Now, I realise I’m a relatively new guy on the scene, I don’t wear tweed, I like a camo baseball cap, I like a polymer stock on my rifle, I like it to be adjustable and I love magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. To some old boys in the shooting world, this is blasphemy and should be stopped. How dare I enjoy shooting handguns, how dare I want more rights for shooters, less regulation and God forbid I support the idea of concealed carry for trained and vetted FAC holders. After all, who in their right minds would want less government intrusion in their lives, right? And tweed is safe, wood stocks are safe. The public are scared of black rifles, we shouldn’t try to educate them………wrong.

Since I came forward to support a recent campaign for CCPs I have watched silently as many “shooters” debate my support.

“YOU ALL NEED TO BE VERY CAREFUL WHAT YOU SAY OR WHEN YOU GO TO RENEW YOUR FAC YOU WON’T GET IT!!!”

Said one happy shotgun shooter.

“It would be a bloodbath if you let the general public have handguns”.

Said another.

“The police take care of that, we don’t need vigilantes!!”

Ignoring of course that an 8 min response time in our nation’s capitol is actually ridiculously bad.

“Assault rifles should be banned! Nobody needs a polymer stock or a mag that holds more than 3.”

Stated another cretin (we all know a semi-auto Ruger 10/22 is pretty far off from a full auto military rifle).

And on and on it goes…

Let’s be frank here, anyone that claims it’s the FAC holders that are the problem are myopic at best and idiotic at worst. It’s not the legal gun owners that cause the problems on our streets it’s the illegal gun owners.

I can give my own job as an example. I review firearms and write about gun culture for a living. Being based in Northern Ireland has certain advantages that the mainland does not, however for that little bit of freedom you still have those in licensing that try to scupper you at every turn. Yes while you can legally fire a pistol here there are those that would argue at the PSNI I have to put each gun I review on my license, which is a time consuming and pointless exercise. It boils down to drowning in red tape instead of exercising common sense.

Handguns on the mainland are a point of contention for me. The government in 1997 took advantage of a tragedy in order to implement gun restrictions, they took the stance of “if one guy does this every shooter should have their freedom taken away”. Like a parent taking away all the toys In a neighbourhood because one child stepped out of line. The thing is FAC holders are armed, they have guns, and they are the most well behaved and scrutinised people in the UK. Get a record for something trivial, you lose your guns. Yet as soon as they took the handguns from the law abiding, gun crime rose by 40% and has only now after 20 years got close to the levels they were before the ban, and they are rising again.

Certain gun journalists….you know the ones who are supposed to look out for shooting sports actually have the gall to come out in support of criminalising gun stocks that aren’t “traditional” and magazine limits. Failing to realise of course there is no calming the antis, if you support one fraction of the sport being penalised and restricted it won’t be long until they come for you next, the shotgun shooters, the tweed wearers, no pet of shooting is safe from these people. So here’s my suggestion band together. A group is stronger united than split into factions. If you don’t like “tactical” rifles don’t buy one but don’t try to restrict someone else from enjoying a modern rifle that’s comfortable and accurate.

You’re only shooting yourself in the foot.

Don’t be afraid to talk about legislation or firearm law and how it can be amended or improved.

Look out for each other and don’t let supposed “pro-gun shooters” silence you or anyone else.

-Mike Lindsay

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