Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Age limit, NO!

Whilst there is much banter being traded over the border currently regarding when a referendum should take place over whether Scotland should leave or remain part of the UK, some MP's are continuing to put their own anti shooting and anti gun agenda forward. A Private Members Bill due to be read on Friday 20 January and being proposed by Thomas Docherty, Labour MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, that seeks to introduce a minimum age for holding a shotgun certificate of 14-years-old. In an article written and available on the Countryside Alliances web site, an article which contains the relevant information so I will not duplicate the contents here.

However, for our shooting friends who reside north of the border, I would advise that they should be careful for what they wish for. For many years the Scots have been complaining about mismanagement and rule from London. A seat of power far removed from and out of touch with their ways and life styles. Now for a Southerner to be in agreement may come as a bit of a shock to some but those in the seat of government in the UK are also not in touch with the ways and life styles of those a mere 50 miles south of London. With this in mind I put it forward that on the whole the UK is London if you are a politician and therefore the further your seat is away from the capital the more out of the loop you are. Over recent years though there have a group of politicians that have tried to reverse this equation. Scottish Labour MP's and Scottish Nationalist MP's have been pushing for more restrictive and oppressive firearms laws. I make the assumption that with the Labour MP's attempts in this area, are borne more out of an ongoing class war that most of the party seem intent on pursuing. The greatest success in this attack on the classes was the hunting ban which even those who drafted the law concede that it has had little if any effects on hunting, with the possible exception of making more people attend hunt days than ever they did in the past. Still making assumptions, the SNP's motive seems to be more about getting rid of the English who own most of the land in Scotland, either as individuals or via business opportunities, where shooting by this group and their compatriots, would appear to cause them some discomfort. Either way many attempts to promote further restrictions upon firearms have emanated north of the border to be imposed upon those south of the border.

Should this or any other laws get enacted it will be a sad day for all those involved in any of the shooting sports. For our friends north of the border, be warned, with enthusiastic but unsuccessful attempts to pass laws in the UK, after a successful independence vote these same politicians will have a free hand to write new laws. The first of these will be such onerous firearms laws that, to the joy of the SNP, estates will be sold. As without a valid Scottish certificate, possession on any firearm, shotgun or rifle will be illegal. Labour will support these proposals and no doubt add bits they feel necessary just to make sure. The whole package will be wrapped up in a public safety blanket so that those who live in large urban or suburban areas will now feel safer walking the streets at night.

The upshot will be, there will still be as many crimes committed with firearms as the criminals will not hand them in and as there is no certificate to trace the owners the police will remain oblivious as to the amount of guns available to the criminal fraternity. Without those estates being able to offer shooting holidays the estates will be absorbed by the state and due to the lack of funds, slowly fall into disrepair. Of course this may not come to pass but when you have politicians who are prepared to play the waiting game and slowly erode the ability of new blood to enter into any of the shootings sports with such proposed regulations as envisaged Mr. Docherty, it is not if but when.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

What will your government do today?

From a country perceived to be the freest country in world with regard to firearms and their ownership, despite actually having over 20,000 laws to the contrary, to one of the most oppressed. The difference between the US and the UK would appear to be great but they both have the same anti civilian firearms ownership ethos.

In the UK were certification is required by an individual to own any form of firearm and where the ownership of pistols has been banned to virtually all since 1997 the plan would appear to be that of complacency by the authorities responsible for the administration of the certificates in question. In the recent and tragic mass shootings the authorities have chosen to ignore medical information, information supplied by the public and members of clubs and even official police reports informing them the individuals in question have been to say the least, mentally troubled. In the most recent case we understand that the police removed the shooters certificate and firearms after an attempted suicide and violent behaviour. This is not an isolated case though, the Dunblane murders which prompted the pistol ban was undertaken by an individual who had been reported as unstable by many of the sources as previously mentioned but again the authorities chose to do nothing.

In the US, in an attempt to introduce a more British and European style of firearms ownership the incumbent powers there devised a fool proof scheme to assist in this legislation. The administration assisted by BATFE and other security services in the US appears to have compelled retailers to sell firearms illegally so that they could then be traced back to the US. But thanks to a few honest officers who blew the whistle on the operation many disturbing facts have been brought to light. The operation named "Fast and Furious" has deliberately endangered American lives by illegally arming Mexican drug cartels – all in a shameless attempt to blame law-abiding gun owners, and their Second Amendment freedom, for violent crime in Mexico. As a result of this disgraceful campaign, countless Mexicans, and at least one American Border Patrol agent, are dead

So what is the commonality of these two disturbing examples; well with all laws made by governments it is much easier to get them passed if the mass population of the country is in agreement with what government is promoting. With the case of firearms because those that are in possession of them are overwhelmingly law abiding and responsible members of society, statistical figures just do not add up to give a significant figure for greater control. As an example of this statistical short fall a group often recommend to give a reference when applying for a UK licence are doctors; yet this group has a higher statistical figure for causing deaths in society than firearms owners. Therefore criminal use of firearms by their owners is thankfully low. So, to get more restrictions passed or to completely remove them from individuals all together you need mass media coverage and to stack the deck. This is done by either doing nothing or instigating an illegal venture, then just sitting back and waiting. When it all goes wrong, as it inevitably will do, politicians and governments will then push their agenda of restriction and removal. The current UK government is fairly firearms friendly but in the US, with such a multi-agency operation, it would appear that the agenda is supported right from the top down. To this end a few deaths along the way is acceptable, so long as when you appear in public you wring your hands and come forward with the relevant platitudes, and announce that for the sake of public safety this new law should be supported.

One way or another, governments will do what they need too, too force their agenda but remember they can only do such things if you vote them into office.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Olympic Legacy?

Not that there is anything remotely political in the Olympic games and no-one has ever thought of trying to make any gain through their handling or management over the years. But after thirteen years of a political party whose very earliest piece of legislation was the removal of all legally held pistols for target shooting. And who's second and much later, over 700 hours of parliamentary time later, bill was to abolish fox hunting with hounds, it should come as no surprise to those of us who keep an eye on such infringements of our chosen leisure time that the same party would now be involved in using the Olympic Games to take another stab at those whose interests they do not agree with so vehemently.

Of all the Olympic venues specifically constructed for the upcoming games there are only three that will not pass on a legacy. At this point I feel it only right to say that the beach volley ball to be held in horse guards will be removed but as a few hundred tons of sand laid on the floor was pretty much it, Mother Nature would have removed it by the end of the summer anyway. The remaining two sport groups of shooting and equestrianism will have no legacy for those who already partake in the sport or for those in the future who would like to. The government of the day refused to accept that the recognised centres for both of these sports should have received any of the monies available to upgrade and improve their existing facilities. Instead the government in its wisdom decided that a total for both sports in excess of £30,000,000, and climbing, be spent to construct facilities and courses, then when the games were over remove all trace that either event ever took place. The reasoning for this decision was that both national centres were too far from the centre of the games, London. Despite this, football (soccer for our American readers) and sailing to name but two will cover the length of the land from Hampden Park in Scotland to Weymouth in the West Country.

A spokesman for the Olympic committee said that the legacy while not in a tangible form would be that both the shooting sports and equestrianism would benefit from greater television coverage than they would ordinarily receive. This may well be true for our equine friends who are only ever seen running around a race course somewhere. But given the coverage that the shooting sports received at the last Commonwealth games where the BBC had the rights; there was no coverage on terrestrial television, all though there was some on Sky. The BBC on its news channels only showed the shooting medallists after ten o'clock at night at the end of its news bulletin which meant it was closer to 10:30. The BBC web site had more coverage but would remove the video after 24 hours. This issue was raised at the time and the reasoning was that the space on both media formats was required for more main stream and popular events. Given that the current head of the BBC, to the best of my knowledge, is the same individual given the position by the government that undertook much of the administration and decision making for the preceding, I have little doubt that the 2012 Olympic Games coverage will continue in a similar vein leaving many shooters and horse riders out in the cold.