Saturday, 19 April 2008

Who do you think is looking after your rights?

So who do you think is looking after the welfare of shooters in the United Kingdom? From the results of my survey it would appear that nobody is. In an on-line poll an amazing 89% of responders felt that firearms arms enthusiasts, of whatever discipline, where not represented by any of the leading organisations that purport to have shooters and firearms owner’s interests at heart. That 89% was, as a figure 5390 voters. That is nearly as many votes as the NRA of GB quotes as its membership (last figure available 5,500, source: NRA Journal)

Less than 10% of respondents felt that the current organisations such as the NRA, BASC, SAGBNI etc where doing a fine job for shooters and enthusiasts.

On the bright side there seems to be a healthy mistrust of politicians and the like. For all the rhetoric espoused by those in power, responders felt that their firearms where at risk of being taken away for politically expedient reasons despite assurances, from all political party’s that shooting was a legitimate past-time.

There was also hope from the final question on members of the public owning, possessing and using firearms. This question is used by many in America and returns in the vast majority of polls conducted a figure around 3%. Therefore in my poll a return of only 2% is encouraging.

So what conclusions can we draw from this poll? As with all polls, it is only indicative but from all of those who bothered to take part there is a clear feeling that despite what the many and varied organisations, associations and groups do, they lean towards self protectionism. The sacrifice of a group for the betterment of the whole. Pistol shooters where the first to be surrendered but even before that the use of semi-auto shotguns with capacities of more than 3 rounds and many historic rifle shooters had their firearms removed or vandalised to comply with more stringent regulations. There was no unity, no support for other shooters. Quite the opposite in fact, the majority where prepared to allow these in roads into our freedoms as long as they were left alone. Don’t get me wrong the work that all these groups do individually does help, it’s better than nothing at all. But all the time shooters are divided by the type of shooting that they undertake they will never be able to put forward a unified single front. This poll with an overwhelming majority has shown that shooters would like an organisation that represents all firearms enthusiasts, from the person who plinks at a tin can with an air pistol to those who may go big game hunting and all the disciplines in between. If you have own a firearm you should be a member of this group.

Politicians are fickle; they go where they believe the votes to be. If you are trying to persuade them that you are worth taking seriously, think about this. You are a member of parliament, you are approached by the NRA of GB with regard to a piece of legislation aimed at removing all firearms with a calibre over .50 of an inch. With just over 5,500 members spread over the whole country you are not likely to feel that this group poses a threat to you or your party if they all decide to vote against you in an election. Now consider the same question but with a single unified organisation representing all firearms owners as described. With around 1.5 million certificates held in the UK plus some 5 million air rifles and pistols, what do you think you might do now? And just in case you are thinking that no-one would introduce such an idea. The .50 of an inch restriction on firearms appears most years in America in this form before their elected officials. There is no stipulation as to the type of firearm, just calibres of .50 of an inch or more. Just how big is your shotguns bore/calibre?

Please bear these thoughts in mind whilst you read the results of my poll and the next time you read in the press about some piece of legislation that will affect a shooters sport, your sport.

Q. Do legitimate firearms owners need an association whose objectives are the pursuance and protection of their rights and firearms issues?

A1/ Yes. We need an organisation that deals solely with shooters rights and firearms issues.
Result: 89.09% votes: 5,390

A2/ No. BASC, Countryside Alliance, Sportsman’s Assoc., etc all do fine.
Result: 7.27% votes: 440

A3/ Who cares the government would not take my guns away, they've said so.
Result: 1.82% votes: 110

A4/ People who own and use guns have no rights
Result: 1.82% votes: 110

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