Monday, 20 October 2014
This old chestnut.
It's appropriate that at this time of year, this petition re-appears, for this is the season of the chestnut, and this old chestnut, the re-introduction of .22 pistols for competition shooting, is once again doing the rounds. If you are interested, the petition can be found HERE. In all the time that this petition has run, and with all the petitions that have gone before, there is not a snowball in Hell's chance of it ever getting to the required 100,000 signatures in order for it to be considered for the backbench business's committee. The reason being that there are just not enough shooters in the UK that can be bothered; they can muster the energy and resources to get themselves to the clay ground, Scotland for a bit of stalking, or out for a night of pest control, but as none of these activities involve a pistol, then it doesn't concern them. Their myopic approach to shooting, is to be fair, more like tunnel vision, "I don't shoot (fill in the space), why should that affect me?" well it does, anything and everything in the shooting sports effects everything else, from the '97 pistol ban to the hung act, right up to the latest anti-gun guidelines put forward by ACPO.
Over the years anti groups and politicians have used everything at their disposal to curtail firearms ownership, and the weapons that get the best results are, dividing the shooters themselves by discipline, and then compounding this with class hang ups; and shooters swallow it every time. Despite a large turnout in the years leading up to the pistol ban for the march in London, and the many petitions, with a few exceptions the only people marching and signing, were pistol owners, all the other shooters, by absentia, were prepared to throw this group under the bus in order to save their own discipline. And just to prove that shooters are consistent in their approach to life, now they have an opportunity to redress the balance, they leave it around 18,000, out of approximately 1,500,000 gun owners, to do the work.
It is my opinion, and feel free to disagree, that the pistol shooters who shoot for the UK in international competitions, including the Olympics have a responsibility to do more in this matter. The elite few travel to foreign parts in order to practice, this now brings in that class divide, for only "rich" can afford to undertake this sport. Now don't get me wrong, if there were facilities here in the UK, were practice could be undertaken by everybody, but those who chose to use facilities abroad, for whatever reason, take advantage of those facilities, much the same as tennis players for example, then fair enough! But there are not, and we only get the shooters that can afford it, not the best we can offer.
So for this, and many other reasons, the target of 100,000 signatures will never be obtained, and around this time next year there will be another petition asking the same question, requesting the same thing, with the same result. This is not to say we should stop trying to overturn this ridiculous legislation, but without more people getting involved and doing their bit, pistol shooting will remain an elitist sport, undertaken by the wealthiest, not the best, for a country that rejoices in the winning, albeit quietly, but doesn't trust the most trust worthy member of its society, just the richest.