Irish Shooting Politics

April 9, 2015

Here we go again…

Filed under: Politics — Mark Dennehy @ 4:32 pm

There is a long history in our sport. Many think that’s a problem, that history is something best forgotten and treated as water under the bridge, forgive and most especially, forget. And let’s all band together under the one banner and forward unto victory Tovarish!

And every time people listen to this and go along with it, history repeats itself.

The latest iteration in this cycle is now upon us. The quick readers digest of the history – don’t skip this, it’s as short as it can be and it’s important – goes as follows:

  • After many years of what the Supreme Court later found was an illegal de facto ban on the private ownership of most kinds of firearms, a case won by Frank Brophy sees the policy overturned and we return to the normal state of affairs that existed from 1925 to 1972, that is to say, the Firearms Act as passed by the Oireachtas was followed by the Gardai and the Minister for Justice.
  • Shortly thereafter, the Minister brings about a new Criminal Justice Bill which contains a single throwaway line in a miscellaneous section that overturns another landmark case, Dunne-v-Donohue. Around this time, certain mostly-self-appointed representatives (who, to be fair, were public about being representatives, if not about how they were going about it) manage to not endear themselves to the Powers That Be, and shortly thereafter, that one single throwaway line became the single largest rewriting of an Act ever shoved into a miscellaneous section of a Bill at Committee stage in Irish history – an event so anomalous that it caused protest and outrage from TDs who had never heard of a firearm and who had no interest in them but felt that such an action was a horrific precedent to set, one that could undermine the process of legislation irreparably. Our representatives hailed the outcome, the Criminal Justice Act 2006, as a great leap forward for the sport. The rest of us looked on in horror at the worst piece of law applied to our sports since 1964 was passed with apparent approval by those claiming to speak on our behalf.
  • Shortly after that, the Firearms Consultative Panel was founded by the new Minister – a roundtable forum, chaired by the Minister through the Firearms Unit of the Department of Justice, where the Gardai, the Department of Sport, the insurance companies, the various sporting bodies, and other stakeholders like the firearms dealers, all sat shoulder-to-shoulder on an equal footing. The original purpose of the Panel was to oversee the implementation of the 2006 Act, but from the outset it was strongly suggested that with that job completed, the Panel would have proven its worth and would become a permanent body providing an official link between us and the Powers That Be in order to avoid costly and risky court cases which were embarressing to those in office and a waste of time to all of us (because they could be overturned even if the state lost in the same way Dunne had been). This was, and remains, the single best thing our sport has ever had in terms of legislative access. It has also been systematically badmouthed and pooh-pooh’d by certain parties who either had no knowledge of what it did or made fools of themselves by their actions in relation to it. It is worth noting that none of this disapproval started until after the representatives were chosen and a certain few found themselves voted (fairly, openly, and in accordance with the rules they had drafted themselves) out of the hot seat by others who were unhappy with their performance to that point.
  • A little while after that, certain parties managed to score an enormous own goal by successfully destroying the FCP, and preventing it from moving forward, thus ensuring that all of us were once again outside the tent with no idea of what was going on inside, unless we were willing to throw one of our own under the bus. Ironically, we were unwilling to do this.
  • Very soon after that — and we are almost at the present day now and this is the start of the current problem – certain factions within the Gardai who do not favor the private ownership of firearms (and they are not universally supported, but if you’re throwing rocks at a uniform, it’s surprising how fast others in that uniform take offence) seized the opportunity afforded by the lack of an official forum, approached the Minister directly with public safety concerns whose statistics have always been in question and formed a Working Group to draft proposals to ban the ownership of certain classes of firearm. It would not have been possible for them to achieve this while the FCP was still in place.
  • This move was communicated to certain parties, who chose to keep it to themselves until months later, when they circulated rumours of a total ban on firearms ownership, but refused to divulge their sources, asking instead for trust and acceptance of their leadership to avert this imminent crisis.
  • Those of us who had lived through the history which you have patiently read through to this point were somewhat unimpressed by these claims. Most of us took the approach of asking for details, and waiting for information instead of running around with our hair on fire screaming that the sky was falling without actually looking upwards.
  • This entire confusion delayed our response to the Working Group’s proposals, made it harder to disseminate information about it, and got a lot of people very worked up over nothing and if there’s one thing that makes it hard to communicate with the powers that be, it’s lots of people shouting stuff at them that isn’t correct. This could have been avoided if people had simply stated what they had been told in the first place. They chose not to do so. The more cynical have suggested that the worry and confusion and concern created an opportunity to try to take a leadership role that prior to that point had not existed due to a lack of a need for such a role.
  • When the Working Group’s proposals were finally released, they proved to be quite bad; and most of us wrote to our TDs and Minister and the Department, because the only approach with a proven success record in our sport when it comes to legislation is grassroots action on a large scale. As a result of this grassroots activity, the process for bringing about those proposals suddenly and rapidly changed – helped, no doubt, by the fact that they were the product of a previous Minister and a previous Commissioner, both of whom were associated with varying degrees of notoriety in the press at the time (and to an extent, still are). Opportunities for consultation were immediately introduced, deadlines were pushed back and shy of actually publicly renouncing a predecessor – which is a very big no-no for sitting Ministers – everything was done that could be done to signal that this was not going to be a foregone conclusion. But the situation remained grave.
  • Around the same time, in a new procedure that has been taking place under this government, the Joint Oireachtas Committee got involved, with the idea of carrying out a seperate review of the firearms act and the Working Group’s proposals. After the initial December public hearing they held with the Gardai, during which many of us were shocked by the number of errors in what was presented, there was a seperate public hearing with interested parties in February, the video of which you have already seen in earlier posts.
  • At this point, due to the sensitivity of the situation, most of us were biting our tongues – the floor of a Dail Committee Room is not the place to take someone to task for having landed us there in the first place. We also felt that sufficient of us were present who were not a member of the Coalition that a more balanced viewpoint could be given. And while there were moments which could have been better, on the whole the day did not go as badly as we had feared it would.
  • Afterwards, we were all approached by Prime Time to do a report on the situation. Most of us remembered the last hatchet job that errorprone production managed to produce about our sport, and while we were polite and gave background information in abundance when asked, we all declined to be on the show because without editorial control, the edit desk can turn the most ardent supporter into the most steadfast enemy. Certain parties… were not so wise. The resulting mess sits squarely on their shoulders.
  • Then last week, we saw the Interim Report of the Committee released and there were serious problems contained within it, which has been touched on elsewhere, and by many others and indeed responses have already been sent in to the Committee and favorably received (at least by some members; some are however, rather opposed to both the concept of private firearms ownership and the task of having to learn about how it is regulated and have been somewhat embarrassed in the press of late as a result of this).

So it is a rather long history. But if you’ve read this far, you’re almost at the present day. And that brings us to our latest iteration in this nonsensical cycle.

Almost immediately after the Committee’s Interim Report came out, the Coalition posted this on their website in a very triumphant mode:

I also set out below a copy of my email to the Chairman of the Committee sent on February 20th and you will immediately note the similarity between what I suggested and what is now recommended by the Committee.  All I can say is that the Committee’s interim report vindicates our stance, as it has accepted virtually every point we have made to date.  Please note that there is no recommendation to ban anything.

We’ll talk about the email in depth in a moment, but first a few notes:

  • This email was sent at the end of February. In secret. Nobody other than the authors knew of its existance. And it – as we’re about to detail – offers a ban on the firearms used by large numbers of people the Coalition does not represent in order to gain the Coalition a seat at a roundtable forum. The Firearms Consultation Panel for slow learners, to borrow a phrase from Northern Ireland.
  • The Coalition believes that by agreeing to ban several classes of firearm and put more on the table for a ban, the Committee has vindicated the Coalition’s stance. This raises several questions about what the Coalition’s stance is, and whose side they are actually on.
  • The Coalition says that there is no recommendation to ban anything; firstly, this is not accurate, the recommendations explicitly speak of a temporary ban on further licences. Secondly, the Minister is reading both the Committee report and the Working Group report side-by-side. She is not reading one as overruling the other because that would be choosing between her own Department and her own Party. So when the Working Group proposes a ban and the Committee does not oppose that ban specifically, it is an unopposed recommendation to ban something. Silence in this case indicates assent. So when the Committee does not recommend a ban, it is not a statement of opposition to a ban.

Now, to consider the email:

Dear Deputy Stanton,

Firstly, my apologies for the slight delay in forwarding this document, which was due to a longer than expected consultation and debate by the Coalition members on the contents.

And yet, with all that time taken, there was not even a hint of consultation with the other groups involved in all of this.

I wish to again thank you and those members of your Committee who took the trouble to travel to Harbour House Shooting Range at Nurney, Co Kildare on Thursday 12th inst.  All appreciate that it is indeed somewhat troublesome for the Committee members to allocate the amount of time required for such a visit from a busy schedule.

As I indicated to you, no one on the Sports Coalition side, nor indeed I believe in any shooting organisation, (there being two small ones not members of the ‘Coalition’) has any desire to be in conflict with the authorities.  That said, that is precisely where we find ourselves for reasons which are well documented and are not necessary to repeat here.

First of all, there are more than two small shooting organisations who are not members of the Coalition. The IFA alone (who are not members) have more people and resources and political clout than the entire coalition combined. The WDAI are also hardly small. And since the Pony Club, the NTSA, the NRAI, and others aren’t members (and many groups allegedly fully represented in the Coalition, such as firearms dealers, have said informally that they have never even heard of the Coalition’s representative members, let alone been represented by them), claiming to have anything like a comprehensive representation is patently false.

Secondly, if those reasons had been repeated in full here, it would have been somewhat embarrassing.

There are a number of fundamental issues which the shooting associations believe, based on their separate and individual experiences, need to be addressed concerning the manner in which firearms licensing is administered in Ireland.  Our collective assessment is based on at least 10 years’ experience of problems encountered, but to a far greater extent over the last five years.

The most urgent and critical issue is the matter of the .22 calibre handguns currently licensed, which are now being regarded as restricted and therefore unlicenceable by An Garda Siochana. 

This was indeed an urgent and critical issue. It did not, however, have anything to do with the Committee’s review or the Working Group’s proposals; it is a matter that was resolved by a court case some weeks ago.

If there was any credibility to the Garda position, it would mean that the vast majority of those firearms currently licensed are in fact held illegally by their owners and in such circumstances, given the alleged public safety issues relied upon, they should be removed from the owners’ possession immediately.  Any other position is illogical, incapable of rational understanding and would in fact represent a breach of duty under the Garda Siochana Act. 

This is complete hyperbole. The legal point in the Gardai’s case was that you could put a 10-round magazine in a pistol, thereby converting it to a restricted short firearm and therefore it should be licenced as such (or rather, not licenced at all, since licencing of new restricted short firearms is legally not permitted under the Firearms Act). This was indeed flawed – firstly because the act of putting a 10-round magazine into the pistol is illegal and if the issuing officer believed that someone will perform an illegal act with a firearm, he or she is prohibited from issuing the licence by Section 4(2)(b) but this assumption was not being stated openly as required; and secondly because plugged and crimped magazines as a solution to magazine size restrictions have been accepted on shotguns for 90 years now in Ireland so a lot of precedent was being ignored.
None of these flaws had anything to do with public safety at all.

In that context it is important to note that the current firearms in this category were:

  • Agreed between the parties in 2009 as unrestricted.
  • Listed as unrestricted in the Garda Commissioner’s Guidelines (ANNEX F) pursuant to that agreement.
  • Offered to firearms applicants by Chief Superintendents and Superintendents instead of centrefire handguns (also pursuant to that agreement).

Sports shooters have had to expend additional significant financial resources in securing their homes to hold these firearms under licence and range operators have spent tens of thousands upgrading their ranges to meet the Range Inspector’s requirements in providing secure facilities for using the guns, while firearms dealers have had to also improve security at their premises.  There is clearly a difficulty here in terms of both a technical and a political problem.

Again, there was a legal issue, and it was resolved by the Courts.

But given the facts as are documented, it is self-evident that the licence holders concerned have a legitimate expectation that their firearms licenses for these guns will be renewed.  Under the current Garda policy, they will not.

Except that they have been. And if writing to public bodies, it’s important to have the facts correct because those bodies can check the facts themselves.
Make no mistake, that was a court case that should never, ever have happened and a non-judicial approach would have been better – but without the FCP to avoid this problem before it happened, that wasn’t possible.

The Garda argument has been that guns are stolen from licence holders and used by criminals.  Their statistics simply do not support the proposition that licensed handguns are a source of supply to criminals which gives rise to a serious public safety problem.

The Gardai have also argued that they are concerned about the concealability of these firearms.

The Sports Coalition could accept the following as a basis to commence round table discussion on a wider review of the firearms licensing system:

 Immediate:

In relation to the .22 handguns which are currently licensed, this matter must be resolved by a new S.I. before the 2015 renewal date.  The terms of resolution could restrict the licensing of such firearms to .22 calibre short firearms suitable for competition under ISSF rules (which include Olympic competitions), but with a barrel length of NOT LESS than 5 inches, and NOT LONGER than 30cm and with a magazine capacity NOT EXCEEDING 10 rounds.

There are some very serious problems here.

Firstly, the Coalition does not have any accredited rifle or pistol experts on the ISSF rulebook. The NTSA does, and it is not a member of the Coalition. It was not consulted about this proposal. It would have rejected it out of hand because a large number of international-level competitive ISSF pistols (and most if not all of the entry-level beginners ISSF pistols) do not meet this requirement of a five-inch barrel and would be banned.

Secondly, the 30cm rule is superfluous – anything longer than 30cm is legally a rifle in Ireland. And superfluous clauses in proposals are bad because they introduce the possibility of errors without gaining anything.

Thirdly, the Coalition does not have the authority from shooters to offer to sacrifice these kinds of firearms. It does not represent the people who use them, it does not govern the sports that use them, and it did not consult with those groups before making this offer. That is deeply unethical and something that everyone else takes great pains to never, ever do in order to allow all the shooting bodies to work together cohesively. When the Coalition does something like this, it is sending a clear message to every other shooting organisation in the country: “We regard you as being expendable and we value you as being worth less than ourselves”.

Fourthly, it’s not just the ISSF who have rules for firearms used in the Olympics. The UIPM and IBU do as well – which is why it says IOC in the current SI. Given the success the MPAI has achieved in their sport over the last few years, this is a fairly significant oversight.

Advantages:

This deals with the concealability issue and you will appreciate this having seen the firearms, almost all of this size, in Harbour House.

This line tells the reader that the Coalition agrees with the Gardai that legally held firearms are a threat to public safety.

The size, calibre and suitability for competition under ISSF rules is prescriptive which is the only basis which will bring certainty to what can and cannot be licensed, and therefore bring to an end the ‘conveyor-belt’ of court challenges.  Lists of suitable guns will not work (as we have seen) because firearms on a list will inevitably go out of production and be replaced by later/improved models.  With a list, there will always be the opportunity for an applicant to convince a court that the particular firearm which he/she sought to licence and which is not on the ‘list’ has characteristics which are the same as, or sufficiently similar to, what is on the list and therefore there is no reasonable basis for a licence refusal.  In other words, our solution would all but eliminate the opportunity for court challenges. 

This is utterly ridiculous. For years, those involved in the Coalition have badmouthed the NTSA and ISSF (as they still do in this letter), and now they are hailing the ISSF rules as a solution even though the experts in the ISSF rules on pistols, the NTSA, would point out that this is not how those rules work.

On top of which, this would not eliminate court cases. And very few of those in the community would look on going to court with all of its attendant risks and costs and stress as an “opportunity” – a choice of words that says a great deal about the author of this section of the letter.

It will defuse a major political problem which is currently set to arise at renewal time in 2015.

No, it really won’t. Eight thousand shotgun shooters facing having their shotguns rendered unlicencable and going to the district courts would still cause that major political problem (which has to do with the recent District Court rule change that let them grant costs in licence appeals cases, costs which are now coming from local district budgets instead of Garda HQ budgets).

It will remove the potential for up to 1,000+ court actions from license holders, firearms dealers and range operators seeking variously to:

Licence holders – overturn refusals to renew decisions, compensation for loss of firearms and amenity, compensation for expenditure on mandatory security;

Firearms dealers – loss of stock value as there will be no market for existing stock held or for those firearms which would have to be handed in;

Range operators – loss of investment costs and profits.

And it will leave untouched over eight thousand shotgun cases…

(It should be remembered that the existing .22 handguns which were licensed as unrestricted were from a list of firearms designated as unrestricted by an acknowledged agreement between An Garda Siochana, the Department of Justice, The Olympic Council of Ireland and the National Target Shooting Association – please see the numerous copy letters from Garda Chief Superintendents to firearms applicants and the copy correspondence between the Department of Justice and An Garda Siochana leading to the compilation of the agreed list, all annexed to the Sports Coalition Submission.  Set against that background, it is somewhat fanciful, as has been suggested by some within the relevant state agencies, that a ban could be achieved without the State having to meet substantial compensation claims.  We have received strong legal advice to that effect.)

This is not what happened.
There are more long-winded ways to say that, but they wouldn’t add anything. The above just did not happen. The NTSA didn’t see the restricted list until after it had been drafted (and indeed the Coalition obtained the emails between the NTSA and the Department of Justice Firearms Unit detailing this under the Freedom of Information Act before this letter was drafted and even interviewed its secretary from the time by email about the topic). And several of the pistols on the list being discussed aren’t even ISSF-legal pistols. This is just straightforward badmouthing of a shooting organisation to the Committee.

We could accept a temporary cap on licensing centrefire semi-automatic rifles with the exception of classic (old – pre 1950) models pending the outcome of a wider firearms licensing review.  In other words, with immediate effect, no new licenses would be issued for this category until a full review is complete.

Again, there are major ethical problems here, as before. The Coalition does not have the moral right to propose to accept this measure.

Here, however, is a more embarrassing error as well – there will be no new Firearms Act before the firearms licencing review is complete. Any measure enacted between now and then must be done by policy or at most, statutory instrument. But no part of the Firearms Act gives any person the legal authority or mechanism to bring about a cap on licencing a specific class of firearm. It’s just not in the Act. It would be illegal to try to do it – three Supreme Court rulings (Dunne, Brophy and McVeigh) say that it would not be permitted, either as an order from the Minister to issuing officers, or as policy amongst the Gardai, or as a Ministerial policy. You would have to rewrite the Act to allow you to carry out this interim measure which is supposed to only apply until the Act is rewritten.

Also, this is a terribly naive view of the word “temporary” in the context of Irish firearms legislation, especially with the possibility that we will see a general election before this review process is finalised, and any new administration is not guaranteed to complete the process.

Medium term:

The establishment of a firearms review board comprising representatives of the main stakeholders (approximately 10/12 persons in total) which would examine the following issues:

This is, in as many words, the Firearms Consultation Panel which the members of the Coalition have all publicly denounced in various ways. The main signatory to this letter has even stated in print that his organisation would never sit at a table with the people involved.

The phrase “Sunningdale for slow learners” seems apropos.

But the inclusion of the phrase “main stakeholders” along with the low number of people suggested seems to hint at a mindset where the Coalition would be the sole representative of shooting interests along with the DoJ, AGS, DoAST, and other public bodies (with two representatives each as standard, this accounts for ten people not including a chair). And the whole tone of this letter seems to support that hint.

 And then we examine the proposed topics for discussion with gradually raising eyebrows.

Licence holders:

Public safety – risk assessment

Home security

Training of applicants

Just to be clear, the current law does not require training of applicants, but proof of competency and this proof is accepted in many different forms. This is not an error or an oversight, this is good law. If training is introduced legally, then training courses must be run, examinations held, and all of this costs money and introduces commercial opportunities which can be exploited by the unscrupulous if not very carefully set up.
Given that we have existed in Ireland as a sport for more than 160 years without requiring this and with a safety record unmatched by any other sport, to suggest this bad idea is a necessity is ridiculous in the extreme.

Firearms ‘apprenticeship scheme’ for the future

This nonsensical idea has been knocking about since a Coalition member sent it to the Department of Justice (in secret, instead of through the FCP which all shooting bodies at the time had agreed to work through). It was a horrific idea then and it has not improved with age. Firearms are not a trade. You do not learn them by apprenticeships. The first test in the Firearms Act for granting a licence is Does the applicant have a good reason for wanting this firearm – and the apprenticeship idea undermines this test by requiring applicants to first get licences for firearms they do not want to have at all. Then the idea assumes that you will magically gain the safety training for the firearm you want from using the firearm you have, even though they may be radically different with different risks and safety rules. So when you finally get the firearm you want in the first place, you have to learn what every novice would learn on day one anyway, but now you have more bad habits to unlearn, so you are less safe than under the current system.

This ridiculous idea has nothing to recommend it, and runs counter to both word and spirit of the law, but for some reason, Coalition members have been pushing it, mostly in secret, for years now.

Ammunition type (velocity considerations)

Ballistics testing and recording

Ballistics testing is a nonsense, sadly. Testing of these systems in California showed that in 68% of cases, the system couldn’t match a bullet to a firearm even under ideal conditions with no distortion of the bullet from impacting a hard surface, and even when it was given fifteen tries to do the match before it was declared to have failed. In Maryland, the police themselves requested the system be shut down and removed as being an expensive useless waste of resources. This is all documented experience and evidence. Suggesting it be talked about more is suggesting that we all accept higher licence fees or one-off test fees to pay for a system we know does not work and so will not stop people saying legally held firearms are sought by criminals in robberies.

Recording of statistical data

Firearms categories versus use

Licence refusals and appeals system

Penalties for breaches of firearms legislation

Administration of the licensing system – independent centralised administration (except for applicant vetting), monitoring etc.

Centrefire variations which are unattractive to criminals

Again, here we are seeing an implicit agreement by the Coalition with the Gardai’s position that legally held firearms are a threat to public safety, in defiance of all the available data and statistics and common sense and statements by other units in the Gardai.

Firearms dealers – Criteria, security etc.

(Currently, while there is an S.I. for security standards at firearms owners’ homes, there is still no S.I. for security standards at firearms dealers’ premises and therefore no penalties for breaches by dealers.)

Given that several firearms dealers have said they have never heard of the body representing them in the coalition, the idea of discussing new legislation for the commercial operations of hundreds of people cannot be a good idea if done in this way.

Range Operators – Re-loading of ammunition, range security and compelability for range attendance.

The only group in Ireland with practical experience of reloading of ammunition, the NRAI whose sport depends on it, are not members of the Coalition, while some of its members have in the past eschewed reloading, believing it unnecessary for shooters. That they would now seek to tackle the incredibly complex law surrounding this topic is hubris indeed.

Centrefire handguns:

In the medium term, we could also agree to allowing those who currently hold licenses for centrefire pistols to change, within calibre, for minimum 5 inch barrel target versions of their firearms.  This would address to a very large extent the issue of any military style pistols licensed and concealability for this category.  There would be no issue of any new licenses being issued and the current cap would be unaffected.  This would require an amendment to the legislation which could in any event be included in whatever amendments are ultimately agreed.

This is simply not true. These liecences would be new and the current ban on new licences would have to be completely changed. And if that ban is being changed anyway, why would anyone not seek to have it overturned or reduced in scope instead of merely allowing those with these firearms to obtain necessary replacement parts, or entirely new pistols depending on the target versions of their current firearms. This isn’t even legally complex as concepts go – new pistols mean new licences, which are currently banned. You cannot have new pistols without new licences. It’s just not possible.

I believe, having consulted my colleagues in the Sports Coalition, the above could be the basis for a permanent solution. 

This is incredible arrogance, to assume that the Coalition, which does not represent the majority of shooters, or the majority of target shooters, can make a determination as to what a permanent solution should be in secret as though they were in fact a governing body, which they are not.

This, or indeed any solution, will in any event only be achieved from round table discussion.  However, because of the distrust with which licence holders view the authors of the Joint Garda/DOJ Report, round table discussions would be virtually impossible without the oversight of an independent chairperson who would also act as guarantor of whatever is ultimately agreed between all the parties.

There is absolutely nobody who could do what is being asked for here. The Minster is not independent; and no other person could even give a temporary guarantee on these matters. Furthermore, you do not enter into roundtable discussions like this – proposing things in secret and then demanding an enforcer so that the other parties will be held to the deal struck. This is not merely rude; it is petulant and childish.

I believe what is proposed here, having regard to all the circumstances and concerns (perceived and/or real) is reasonable, practical and will deliver certainty.  

It is not reasonable, it is pie-in-the-sky ridiculous.

It is not practical, in fact much of it is illegal.

And it will not deliver certainty, unless the author was referring to the certainty of protest, anger, outrage, and a total lack of acceptance of the process by the majority of those it will affect.

It will also achieve the removal of conflict from this long standing dispute between the authorities and the end users.  It is important to say that, inevitably,  it will not find favour with every individual affected.  But I and my colleagues take our obligation to show leadership very seriously, and I am pleased to confirm that following discussion, debate and persuasion, it represents the unanimous view of all the associations in the Sports Coalition.

First of all, there is no such obligation to show leadership and to assume there is is the very height of arrogance and foolishness.
Secondly, the reason it will not find favor with the majority of people affected is that the proposals are unworkable, illegal, and are being imposed in secret by a group who do not represent those affected and who did not consult with the expert groups involved in all of this and who do not envisage a future where other groups have a role in the proceedings, which is flatly unacceptable.

I sincerely hope what I have set out above is helpful to you in your capacity as Chair of the Justice Committee and that the Committee members can see that it represents both a desire and a willingness on the part of the end users to end conflict while addressing any reasonable public safety concerns.

I am available to meet you or other members of your Committee as you deem appropriate for the purposes of teasing out any aspect of what is proposed.

Yours sincerely,

Desmond Crofton
National Director
NARGC
Spokesperson for the Sports Coalition

And a final note to the Coalition’s post should indicate to anyone who’s read this far that this is not the final iteration of this cycle of causing mayhem and then citing the mayhem as a reason for their further existence:

We now look forward to engaging with the Minister in relation to the recommendations and the ongoing work of the Committee.

Kindest regards and well done to all.

We have been well done indeed.

But this time, more people have noticed than last time, and that number keeps growing…

One wonders what will give, and when it does give, will we be left with representatives who are less enthusiastic about pounding tables and taking risky strategies in secret agreements that hinge on treating some members of the shooting community as expendable — or will we be left standing about on empty ranges talking about the good old days when we used to own firearms and take part in one of the greatest sports in the world…

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