Being British, I never quite understood the desire to carry guns.
As some of you know, I served 12 years in the Royal Air Force (RAF) as a caterer and in those 12 years I learnt to fire both the L1A1 Self Loading Rifle (more commonly known as the SLR) and the SA80. Neither or which filled me with a feeling of empowerment when I carried them on Guard Duty or on Exercise. Rather they were a major pain in the arse.
Let me explain.
Let’s start with Guard Duty and the old days (1993). You have an SLR in your arms and 30 live rounds in your magazine. The SLR was a sodden heavy rifle and even with the shoulder strap, carrying it was a pain.
Now, most Guard Duties I did were 2 hours on followed by 2 hours off for a period of 12 hours, for 7 days. So, image you are on gate guard, and only allowed to move roughly 5 feet from a fixed point, carrying this lump of metal, in the pouring rain, boiling heat, or as I once did at RAF Gatow in Berlin in -24c (At that temperature, the police dogs were not allowed out due to health and safety but us poor guards still had to go out) Trust me when I say, all you want to do is get inside and get rid of the bloody thing.
Now if that was not bad enough, if you had an ND (a Negligent Discharge i.e. you fire your rifle by mistake) it was £500 plus put on charge and that was in 1993!!!
And Heaven forbid that you actually shoot someone, as you are instantly charged with murder, and have to prove that you obeyed your “Green Card” or Rules of Engagement.
Now before people get angry about this I was in the RAF when the IRA were still bombing and killing members of the Armed forces on the British main land so Guard Duty was not a risk free exercise.
Anyway, as for ” Exercises” well I was caterer and in the RAF, so most of the time I was in a tent preparing meals, however, I did my time running round in a respirator, wearing my NBC suit and carrying a rifle.
I also went on Exercise with the Ghurkha’s down the Falkland’s in 1999, and yes I did very nearly die, it’s amazing what your body can do when you have a Ghurkha Corporal screaming in your ear. I can honestly say at no point was I thinking “I’m running around with a rilfe, this is cool and amazing” I was too busy trying to breath.
So what is the point of this posting? Well I hear young kids today talking about guns like they were toys, I hear them glamorising guns and thinking them ‘Cool’ because to them that is what they are.
Now I am neither Pro nor Anti guns (Nor anti violent games), they are after all just lumps of metal. However, maybe just maybe if guns were made a little bit less glamorous and cool, then maybe the adults of tomorrow would not think of them as such.
So how to make them less glamorous? Oh that is easy lol. Without any live rounds – Make them do Guard Duty for a week in the freezing rain or boiling heat, make them run a mile and half with the weapon in port position every day or a week, make them clean and maintain 30 rifles a day, before they are allowed to go out or play on their computer games.
Then when they are so sick and tired of carrying the rifle around, and only then, place them on a properly supervised range and then fire off a couple of shots, and clean the rifle afterwards of course.
Make them learn that a Rifle is just a lump of metal and really quite boring. Make them learn that the most import part of any weapon is the Human that carries it, for its them that will ultimately make the choice to fire or not.
As for me, I am glad to say I have never fired a rifle in anger, and only once had to cock my weapon. I am very proud of that.