It seems totally wrong to keep reminding ourselves of the appalling actions by those who abuse the rights and privileges of legitimate gun owners, and by inference, the gun trade. Nonetheless the incidents, both here and abroad, continue and we find ourselves in somewhat of a state of siege mentality.
There are various ways of addressing the situation, one is to maintain that the occurrences are; “nothing to do with us” and get on with our business and ignore the atrocities, and the media reports of them. Another, and perhaps wiser attitude, is to take note of the events and ask ourselves whether, or not, we are doing enough to protect ourselves from draconian legislation by making sure that our trade, and our individual businesses are ‘whiter than white’ as far as the checks and balances we make in our everyday business lives. Are we absolutely sure of the bona fides of each and every customer? Is our security, both of the premises and the measures taken when transporting firearms, as good as it should be? Are all the details in our Registers up to date and correct? Do we have a good relationship with our local FEO? Do we have regular contact with our Trade Association to keep up to date with changes to firearms legislation?
Although these measures may seem second nature to us and we know what we are doing and how to run our businesses, but the world around us is changing and we must move with the times. The new EU Regulation on de-acs and the proposed new EU Firearms Directive were published a mere five days after the Bataclan shooting in Paris in November last year. Since then there have been several similar outbursts of gun violence, both in Europe and the USA, and we are now dealing with the new UK Policing & Crime Bill which has a section on firearms legislation.
Whether we like it or not there are those who would curtail our activities by making the ownership and use of civilian firearms more and more difficult. There are plenty of examples of where these individuals, and politicians have succeeded. Both the 1988 and ‘97 Amendment Acts came on to the Statute Book as a result of illegal firearms incidents.
The last thing that I want is to do is overdramatise the situation but, when I first joined the GTA we met, occasionally, with firearms licensing and sometimes with the firearms team at the Home Office. Now, less than 20 years later, never a week goes by without some contact from the police, firearms licensing, the Home Office, SOCA, NABIS, TRIDENT, BIS or one of the other law enforcement agencies.
Greater vigilance over our affairs is now a given and we must be aware of this vigilance and continue to act as the upright and law-abiding citizens, and RFDs, that we are.