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Schoolchildren in London are eligible for 125,000 free tickets for the 2012 Olympics next Summer, but any event that involves a firearm will be excluded from the massive giveaway.Why, you ask, would anyone choose to hide storied events and world class competitors from children’s eyes?
Because City Hall and Olympic organisers are afraid of an anti-gun backlash. That’s right — the powers that be in London won’t subject kids to such bloodsports as Skeet and Trap shooting. The London Evening Standard reported yesterday on the “Ticketshare” decision, and the window it has given into current British views on guns in society.
In supporting the decision to discriminate against Olympic gun events, Danny Bryan, founder of Communities Against Gun and Knife Crime, told the Evening standard he agrees with London Mayor Boris Johnson, and that “It is good kids should enjoy the Games but there’s no way we should glorify guns.” Implicit in this anti-gun activist’s statement is the highly dubious connection between watching Olympic level marksmanship and crime.
The dwindling — and already besieged — U.K gun rights community is outraged, as are hopeful members of the shooting events. They want a reversal of the London Mayor’s decision because their sport is a world class, precision competition that upholds the highest Olympic standards.
Georgina Geikie, 26, a Commonwealth Games bronze medalist and Olympic pistol hopeful, told the Evening Standard she was “horrified,” that the event she has spent years training for was somehow considered inappropriate for children, and said:
“This is a chance for children to look at guns in a different way. They are taking away the opportunity for the sport to blossom. How do we educate people that it is a sport if they cannot watch it?”
David Penn, secretary of the British Shooting Sports Council, was also outraged, and pointed out the utterly nonsensical basis for the decision when he said:
“There is no link between Olympic-level shooting and crime. It’s like saying that a thief would use a Formula One car as a getaway car.
And as Matt Rutherford, editor of ShootClay magazines, wrote to London Mayor Boris Johnson in an open letter released yesterday:
“Allowing children to attend these events will ensure that they observe shotgun and target shooting performed at the highest international level, with a high degree of discipline and excellent safety standards.”
Gun ownership has already been under assault in the U.K. Britain’s pistol shooters are not even allowed to train in their home country as a result of laws passed in the wake of the Dunblane massacre in 1996. A lobbying campaign after that tragedy managed to convince British Parliament to pass the Firearms Amendment of 1997, which effectively banned cartridge loading handguns. That ban even includes hopeful British Olympians.
In the aftermath of heinous, widespread riots in London and other British cities, it would seem only logical that the Brits revisit their anti-gun stance and consider allowing citizens to provide for self-defence. After all, those riots proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the U.K.’s criminal element already has guns, and will use them against defenseless citizens.
But alas, the British have decided that guns are bad, citizens are mere subjects, and even world class shooting athletes competing for international pride should feel a twinge of regret about their influence on children.