Should airsofters get behind firearms owners?

Now I’m clearly stating the obvious when I say that airsofters have a keen interest in things that shoot. Nearly all of us will have at least one imitation firearm or realistic imitation firearm in our collections. They are after all, a key component in the ability to participate in our fine sport!

How many airsofters also shoot air guns, shotguns or firearms though? I think it is fairly safe to assume that there are a reasonable number that shoot air guns but that firearms and shotgun certificate holders are likely to be amongst the minority.

Most airsofters will be aware of at least one issue affecting airsoft at any given time over the years. Either in the form of legislative amendments, political challenges, anti-gun groups, media bias and misinformation, through to players being arrested and social media groups being shut down. And for firearms owners the story isn’t any different. If anything its worse! Firearms owners are amongst the most law abiding members of society but they are frequently the most vilified!

Why should this matter to airsofters?

Firstly, we all shoot guns in one form or another. It doesn’t matter if it is a 6mm spring powered pistol, a CO2 powered 4.5mm steel BB air pistol, a 12g O/U shotgun or a .50 cal rifle, they are still all widely categorised as ‘guns’.

Secondly, in an age where shooting sports, firearms and anything generally gun shaped are becoming increasingly frowned upon and legislated against we should all see the obvious benefit that can be gained by helping out our powder burning brothers and sisters! The age old adage, “united we stand, divided we fall” applies perfectly!

The government has been chiseling away at shooting sports for decades now under the guise of ‘public safety’. And we know that it doesn’t just affect firearms owners. VCRA 2006 anyone? And in case they had forgotten, we are the public! Are they suggesting they are trying keep us safe from ourselves? Obvious ulterior motives are obvious but thats another discussion for another day…

And lastly, the fact is that with the way things are going we simply cannot afford to just fight our own corner and then hope others will come to our rescue if the challenge proves too great! Shooters have a long memory and they remember those who helped and those who hung them out to dry. Lets not be the latter!

What is currently affecting firearms owners?

Good question! Well firstly I would suggest you check out the following web sites…

  • Firearms UK https://firearmsuk.org – They are an excellent place to start for anyone who wants to keep up to date of recent shooting and firearm related stories and is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to start writing to MP’s and learning more about the challenges facing shooting sports in the UK.
  • British Association of Shooting and Conservation https://basc.org.uk – Take a bit of time to read about them and what they do and what they are currently working on. They do a lot!
  • UK NRA (not affiliated to the NRA of America) http://www.nra.org.uk The National Rifle Association (UK) are the governing body for many shooting disciplines in the UK.
  • Countryside Alliance http://www.countryside-alliance.org – Though generally more concerned with rural affairs, they still have a large support base for shooting.

All of the above can be found on Facebook, Twitter etc… so give them a like and a follow and you should be able to stay sufficiently ‘in the loop’.

What can I do?

You can do as much or as little as you feel! The key here is to not stand at the back and do nothing. Many of us learnt that when airsofters get together we can make ourselves heard …As Lord Shrewsbury would attest to… https://www.ukapu.org.uk/amendment-to-be-withdrawn/

Anything from just sharing this post through to joining a shooting group such as The British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC) or actively lobbying MP’s, all contribute to making a difference.

Remember to always voice your support for your fellow shooters wherever you feel it is appropriate to do so. Don’t be afraid to share shooting articles or issues affecting shooting amongst airsoft groups and anyone who may be sympathetic towards the plight of shooting sports. Always bear in mind that a growing number of shooters will be fellow airsofters and will do the same for airsoft within the shooting community!

Want to help right away?

For those who want to get stuck in then the current issues affecting firearms owners are…

1. The proposed moving of .50 calibre rifles and certain types of ‘rapid fire’ rifles such as the MARS action (Manually Actuated Release System) to Section 5 (banned basically). There has been no recorded crimes involving either of these types of firearms so the obvious question is why the desire to move them to Section 5? According to the Home Office, there was one recorded theft of a .50 caliber rifle from a Registered Firearms Dealer (RFD). Imagine if they banned airsoft DMR’s because one was stolen from an airsoft retailer!

The Home Office have started a public consultation on offensive and dangerous weapons legislation. The consultation is open for a limited time and closes at 11:45am on December 9th.

Details and links to the public consultation can be found here…

https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/offensive-and-dangerous-weapons-new-legislation

2. Changes to legislation surrounding ownership of antique firearms. Again, this is based on a tiny amount of misuse. In 2016 there was one high profile case surrounding a gang in Birmingham* so again, the issue is with criminals and not the law abiding who will be the ones unfairly impacted by any new legislation. There are already laws in place to deal with criminal use of antique firearms and the manufacturing of ammunition for obsolete calibre firearms without a license!

Details of the proposed changes and links to the public consultation can be found here…

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/consultation-launched-on-laws-around-antique-firearms

The public consultation closes at 11:45am on December the 14th.

3. Airgun regulation review. There is to be a review of current airgun legislation and possible implementation of licensing in England and Wales.

It could be argued that airgun crime is high, and at approximately 3000 incidents a year you may well agree, but looking at the Home Office figures** you can see that their use in violent crime, such as attacks on person, robberies etc… is a small fraction of their overall criminal usage. Now compare those numbers to the BASC estimate that there are over 6 million airguns in England and Wales and the result is less than 0.05% of those airguns are used in crime. There are already effective laws in place to tackle the criminal misuse of airguns and these have proven to be very effective in reducing airgun crime, hence the exceptionally low 0.05% crime rate.

Airgun licensing also has the potential to effect airsoft players. The introduction of maximum legal power limits for airsoft replicas has meant full auto capable RIFs/IFs over 1.3j are prohibited Sec5 firearms and bolt-action and semi-auto rifles and pistols and revolvers over 2.5j would just move to the air weapon category. Currently thats not a problem, but with the introduction of airgun licensing this could mean airsofters with RIFs/IFs, that for whatever reason shoot over the 2.5j limit may then find themselves in possession of unlicensed airguns.

Details can be found here… https://www.gov.uk/government/news/home-office-to-review-air-weapons-regulation-in-england-and-wales

*http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-34936510
**http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7654

It’s not all gun grabbing and totalitarianism!

Now, this might all sound like the whole world is against us but it actually isn’t and neither does it need to be. The vast majority of people don’t wake up in the morning and go to bed at night in fear of being a victim of gun crime.

That said, some politicians and the media like to try and convince those people that certain death at the hands of gun wielding maniacs is a very real issue – usually in pursuit of whatever agenda or political career gains they are trying to achieve.

In response our agenda should be a simple one – Educate and protect!

  • Educate – The more people we can educate about shooting sports the better. Shooting in all its forms is a great activity and can be enjoyed by almost anyone. So take someone who has never shot to an airsoft game, to the local shooting range or clay grounds or even to just plink at a few targets in your garden. Remember though! Safety and awareness of your surroundings and your neighbours are your key concerns if you are plinking in your back garden!
  • Protect – We can only achieve this with a combination of education, introducing new people to shooting and defending what we already have from further restrictions.

And don’t forget that members of the shooting sports community are considered as some of the most law abiding members of society. Whats the point in having that status if we don’t tell everyone about it? Law abiding sportsmen and women are not the problem and never have been – they are law abiding so why would they be an issue?

The bottom line is that the more people understand shooting, the less likely they are to be afraid of it and the less likely they are to seek or support bans or further, unnecessary legislation.

Our sports may be different but we share identical goals; to protect and promote our sport so it can be enjoyed well into the future.

Happy shooting!