Every day the government is asked many questions in parliament.
These questions can only be posed by MPs, but they are generally written by individuals and groups seeking information that is not in the public domain.
We use them to get the answers we want, but so can those who oppose shooting.
Last month there was a curious question made in Parliament that caught my eye. “To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many semi-automatic weapons are under licence.”
The answer was given by the Home Office, but why the question itself strikes me as quite bizarre. There is no doubt that the person responsible is fishing around for evidence on semi-automatic rifles in the UK.
But who would want to know such information? I have a hunch.
There is a movement in America trying to restrict guns. Knowing it faced an immense battle, it diverted from the logical arguments against people with guns and concentrated on the guns themselves.
The formula starts by identifying guns and components that they dislike, then flooding the media with misinformation about how they are no use for anyone except the Special Forces. The aim is to gradually turn the public’s view against these types of guns and the people who use them.
They refer to ‘assault weapons’ when they actually mean semi-automatic rifles. They talk about high-capacity magazines, ‘sniper scopes’, thumbhole stocks and other fixtures of rifles. This gets the nation thinking that these types of guns need to be ‘banned’.
With firearms legislation in Great Britain screwed as tight as it will go, there are still those who want to take it further. And they have now adopted this American method.
These people are circling like vultures around the current legislation, waiting for another bite, and their current morsel appears to be semi-automatic rifles.
For evidence of this, you need look no further than an article in the Sun in the wake of the Sandy Hook incident. The title read “Massacre guns on sale in the UK”, referring to the Ruger SR-22, a semi-automatic .22 rifle that bears a vague external similarity to an AR-15 at about 300 yards.
The important facts, such as the ammunition it uses, were omitted, and the Sun was forced to make an apology for its bad reporting. But the damage was already done.
This was no doubt the work of the Gun Control Network, which was quoted in the story as saying: “If President Obama manages to ban semi-automatic weapons, then I very much hope the UK will follow suit.”
But it gives no reason why. I, along with many others who shoot, have a .22 semi-auto with thumbhole stock, a scope and some 25-round magazines. That, according to the opposition, should put us all on the on the most wanted list.
The truth is a gun is a gun whatever it looks like. The colour and its attachments are irrelevant.
Guns with composite stocks and tactical rails may not be to the taste of the traditionalist, but they make no difference to what the rifle is capable of. If a person is fit to hold a gun, then they should be able to own one without being dictated to by a misinformed public.
If you are given a driving licence, you are seen fit to drive any car that is road legal. This current campaign is like suggesting certain performance cars should be banned, despite being perfectly road legal and the drivers having licences.
The saying that ‘America sneezes and Britain catches a cold’ is usually applied to the economy, but it also seems to be true when it comes to guns.
The figures that were released in the parliamentary question are likely to be heard again, in a press release from an organisation such as the GCN. We must be ready to confront their illogical argument.