Why is shooting a target?
THE assault on the shooting fraternity continues apace: the Home Office has suggested a 12-fold increase in fees for licensed shooting clubs. Agromenes has always supported proper legislation to ensure effective gun control—the situation in the USA should be a warning to us all. America has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world and the worst overall figures for death from firearms; Japan, with one of the lowest rates of ownership, has the lowest rate of death by shooting.
Britain is right down at the bottom of the table and, if you take into account our higher rate of gun ownership, we have a pretty good case to be the safest country in the world. Given that we’re doing so well, why are there so many calls for even more bureaucratic and costly regulations?
Shooting is already tightly controlled and handgun usage is restricted to licensed clubs. It now looks as if the Home Office is using this tough law to screw more money out of the sport, which can’t operate without licensing, so the Government has participants over a barrel on charges. The proposed increases are horrendous: all charges, even for minor licence changes, are being increased out of all proportion with inflation. There is a consultation in place, but the tone of it is ‘take it or leave it’.
Country people—and not only those who are members of gun clubs—ought to be worried at this development. There is a clear threat to do the same for shotguns when the Home Office next makes changes. Country people who shoot are already over-regulated as a result of the understandable knee-jerk reaction to those few well-publicised shootings that have caused so much heartbreak, but, despite awful cases such as Dunblane, we need to keep a sense of proportion. These occurrences are rare and it’s even rarer that a shooting tragedy is the result of a regulatory failure.
However, whenever the cost of licensing comes up, there is never a discussion about how to make it cheaper and less onerous, yet still maintain its effectiveness. Of course, there are people who want the system to be as difficult as possible because they object to the sport, but they are a minority.
The problem lies with those who think that anything that lightens the burden of regulation is bound to increase the misuse of firearms. As a result, governments of any hue approach the problem from the point of view of covering their costs. They assume their system is altogether correct and that it should be paid for by those who want a licence.
Agromenes wants an entirely different approach, based on his own experience. For 30 years, I have had a gun cabinet affixed to precisely the same wall in exactly the same position in an unchanged boot room. It contains the same guns it has contained for 15 years, when I added a pair to the original two. Every three years, a pleasant man comes and checks that this remains true.
Why can’t I apply for my renewal by post or online and, if the details remain the same, be spared his time and mine? I should, of course, be subject to a random visit and no doubt the police would concentrate those visits where they had most reason to be concerned.
I cannot believe such a system would increase the danger of firearms misuse one iota. Couldn’t the Home Office try this before it again unnecessarily pushes up the cost to every shotgun owner?
‘They assume their system is correct and that it should be paid for by those who want a licence