Irish Olympic target shooting

Ah, publication…

Printing press icon It’s nice to be published, even if only in the letters page. This doesn’t have much to do with training in general, but what the hell šŸ™‚

It did get a bit mangled by editing, which is something I’ve often wondered about – if you write a letter and it’s good enough to publish, surely it should be left as is? Anyway…

From today’s Irish Independent Letters Page:

Fears of the licensed firearms holder
Reading Monday’s article by Paul Melia on firearms on the black market worried me greatly.

I speak as one of an estimated 180,000 licensed firearms holders in this state who have legitimate reasons for holding firearms (mine are held for the purposes of Olympic target shooting); who have never broken any law, and whom are judged by the state to be safe to hold these firearms.

I and those like me who shoot regularly, are deeply concerned over the rise in the criminal abuse of firearms.

We too have children and wives and families and loved ones who could be the next innocent bystanders to be shot.

We applaud the successful prosecution of these criminals who put us all at risk. We are responsible people who use firearms safely in the course of our daily lives for reasons from Olympic target shooting (our Olympic clay pigeon shooting team is one of the best in the world, with gold medals from events around the world including the world championships and an eighth place finish in the Athens Olympics) to hunting and general agricultural use.

Hunters in this country spend more of their own time and money than any state body on the on-the-ground practicalities of conservation in the wild.

Perhaps because of the familiarity we have with firearms we worry at the manner in which the details of gun crime are reported.

Paul Melia’s article reported on the prices of firearms on the black market, but the figures he reported were in conflict with reality, in some cases far too low to be believed, in others far too high.

Your reporting was inaccurate. And for those of us who are legitimate firearms owners, this trend is very worrying.

It worries us because not only do we have a long history of being the subject of hastily drafted legislation, drawn up by people who lacked technical knowledge of what they were drafting laws to control, but also because we know that such legislation does nothing for public safety. We, the legitimate firearms owners, are the only citizens who wind up obeying such legislation.

Criminals ignore it, as they ignore the more serious penalties that go with murder and manslaughter in this country.

If they will risk life in prison for murder, why would three years in jail for possession of an illegal firearm deter these criminals?
MARK DENNEHY,
GREYSTONES,
CO. WICKLOW

And the original letter submitted, with the later-omitted bits in blue and moved lines in green. It’s not hugely mangled, and in one or two places reads faster; but I’m sad they cut the last paragraph, and some of the cut bits had some good points, I thought šŸ™ Oh well.

The necessity for accurate reporting on Firearms
Dear Sir,
Reading Monday’s article by Paul Melia on firearms on the black market worried me greatly. I speak as one of an estimated 180,000 licenced firearms holders in this state who have legitimate reasons for holding firearms (mine are held for the purposes of Olympic target shooting); who have never broken any law, and whom are judged by the state to be safe to hold these firearms. I and those like me who shoot regularly, are deeply concerned over the rise in the criminal abuse of firearms by criminal elements. We too have children and wives and families and loved ones who could be reported on by your paper or another as being the next innocent bystanders to be shot, and every last one of us sleeps easier in our beds when criminals who engage in gun crime are arrested by the Gardai and jailed. We applaud the successful prosecution of these criminals who put us all at risk. We are responsible people who use firearms safely in the course of our daily lives for reasons from Olympic target shooting (where, do not forget, our Olympic clay pigeon shooting team is one of the best in the world, with gold medals from events around the world including the world championships and an 8th-place finish in the Athens Olympics) to hunting (where hunters in this country spend more of their own time and money than any state body on the on-the-ground practicalities of conservation in the wild) to general agricultural use (where the use of a shotgun on predators around meat animals is a necessary fact of life to allow us the luxury of buying our meat over a counter instead of having to hunt for it ourselves).

But, perhaps because of the familiarity we have with firearms which we gain in the same way that a driver will gain familiarity with cars or a pilot with aircraft, we feel worry at the manner in which the details of gun crime are reported. Paul Melia’s article reported on the prices of firearms on the black market, but the figures he reported were in conflict with reality, in some cases far too low to be believed, in others far too high. This is not meant to be a comment on “rip-off Ireland”, but to point out that on basic facts your reporting was inaccurate. This is not the first time we have seen this, nor is it by any means the most worrying instance, and for those of us who are legitimate firearms owners, this trend is very worrying. It worries us because not only do we have a long history of being the subject of hastily drafted legislation, drawn up by people who lacked technical knowledge of what they were drafting laws to control; but also because we know from this same history that such legislation does nothing for public safety (which means our safety as well), because we, the legitimate firearms owners, are the only citizens who wind up obeying such legislation. Criminals ignore it, as they ignore the more serious penalties that go with murder and manslaughter in this country. If they will risk life in prison for murder, why would three years in jail for possession of an illegal firearm deter these criminals?

So I ask of you sir, in the coming days, when your paper reports on firearms crime and the government’s plans to protect us from it, PLEASE ensure your facts are correct and your reporters are familiar with how the legislation will affect all of us. Otherwise, we will believe we are safe when we are not; that we have sensible, well-considered legislation when we do not; and that we are protected by a well-resourced and highly trained police force, when we do not.

Yours Sincerely,

PS. Dear editor, for reasons of personal security I ask that you do not disclose my street address. Listing my town and county is perfectly acceptable, however.

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