Oh, behave. While I believe that the UK handgun ban to have been an example of knee-jerk legislation at it's worst, and useless, you have to draw a line somewhere. The weapon that the gentleman in the photo ii brandishing is a Barrett M82A1 "light fifty". It chucks a fifty calibre bullet over 3000 metres. A bolt action variant of this weapon, the M82A2 was purchased on the open market in the US and subsequently smuggled into Northern Ireland. During the earlyto mid nineties PIRA used this weapon to kill 9 soldiers, starting with private Paul Turner, and finishing with Lance Bombardier Stephen Restorick in 1997.
There are no real legitimate civilian uses for such weapons, and many malevolent uses.
I'm glad that you can see that the 97 Act was a ludicrous piece of 'legislation,' it shows that you think about these things.
The legitimate purposes are there but it's all down to which discipline you shoot. Regardless of the various types of shooting the whole thing boils down to trust.
How would you feel if a squaddie came out after a year's trg and was given his rifle and live ammo to take home ? Or even one straight out of basics ? Yet there are governments which permit this, or even make it compulsory.
I've visited and lived in a number of countries and have always felt safer in places where the majority is armed. There will of course be exceptions to this, but that's generalisation for you.
That PIRA used a fifty to murder soldiers is hardly a basis for banning their use by everyone. To me a firearm is a tool, or in certain expensive cases a work of art. I have no big macho image to uphold, nor do I find that shooting lets me 'get rid of my aggression' as I have also been told might be the case. On the contrary, as I have to concentrate on different skills and abilities I find it relaxing, calmingeven, after a kak day at work.
I have shot large calibres on a number of occassions, both before and after signing off, the fact that I don't own one is due purely to financial reasons, they are damn expensive both to purchase and to shoot.
We live in a climate of banning these days. As if by banning inanimate objects we will solve all life's ills, a little application of the inside of the hatrack shows it just ain't so. All the banning legislation has been made as a sop to the media-inflamed frenzies which have followed tragedies such as Hungerford and Dunblane Had the firearms laws then in place been applied properly the incidents would not have occurred.
A better legislation would be to licence shooters as opposed to firearms, if someone is to be trusted to own one rifle/pistol/shotgun then there's no reason why he can't own several. Then should someone be adjudged unsuitable to possess they would have no access to these evil, wicked, mean and nasty pieces of metal.
As I said before, it's all a question of trust. Governments that trust their populace allow such things, those that are desperate to hang onto power will keep the subjects in their place
It's the difference between a Democracy and an Autocracy