Saturday, 30 May 2009

Ban Paintball??

Time out for this activity in Germany?
He may look wacky but he should be allowed to play his corner.

It would appear that the Federal Government in Germany is considering banning paintball. Why? Well after a disturbed individual called Tim Kretcshmer went on a rampage in March with his father's registered pistol, the authorities are seeking to clampdown. There is nothing new about this phenomenon at all. The UK has seen this several times. After Michael Ryan using a Kalashnikov and pistols embarked on a murder spree in Hungerford in 1987, the UK government imposed a ban on self loading rifles.

The following decade after another appalling crime the UK government banned hand guns. This latter ban was after a successful campaign, the snowdrops campaign that garnered much public support. The problems I have with groups like the snowdrops campaigners, is their arguments are emotional rather than practical. I am fully in favour of law abiding citizens having a right to own firearms. True enough both Dunblane and Hungerford were committed by madmen with legally owned guns. However the easy response is excessive statism and draconian legislation fuelled by hysteria and moral panic. There are other factors worth considering. Hamilton the mass murderer in Dunblane was under police investigation and had been the subject of several complaints. His licence should have been suspended by the police under the then existing laws.

Where have these laws left us? Quite simply the only people in the UK at the moment with possession of firearms are either criminals or police. The criminals of course face legal sanction if caught but they tend to regard that as par the course anyway. If you live in a rural area and someone tries to break in to cause you harm your only option is to become a victim of crime. These laws do not and have not made us any safer in that regard. As to the police well of course their firearms units are reasonably (although not especially) well trained. But they carry a huge and unnecessary burden. They are the public's sole guardian, the only people with any legal or practical means of disrupting violent crime against the individual. No wonder they make mistakes. Secondly have the laws worked and prevented gun crime? Have a guess what the answer to that one is? The simple truth is that gun crime has increased fourfold in spite of the UK having the most restrictive laws concerning firearms in the world. The laws passed by the Tories in 1987 and New Labour in 1997, have only acted against the law abiding citizen and keep no one safe.

Back to Germany then and Kretschmer. Kretschmer had been treated for mental illness according to the report by the BBC. He did not in fact posses a firearms licence. Secondly he did not it seems actually play paintball either! He was a loner and disturbed. Yet if the German government thinks that banning a sport that yes may be militaristic or plane wacky will keep anyone safe they are wrong. Just look to the UK for an example of how these laws don't actually achieve anything other than the appeasement of the morally outraged. I fully understand how many people reading this may think things like 'well isn't paintball weird anyhow' or even 'well why would someone want to own a gun anyway?' However when the governments curb these activities we see a disturbing shift in power from the individual to the state that I really do not like. I strongly welcome debate on this topic and views from abroad in places like the USA in particular.

No comments: