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Olympic Update: Free Tickets for Kids--But Not at Shooting Events

Friday, August 26, 2011

As we recently reported, gun laws in the United Kingdom are among the most restrictive in the world -- a fact that left law-abiding UK citizens defenseless and afraid to walk the streets in the wake of the rioting, arson, assault and mayhem that occurred in and around London earlier this month.

One might think that these events would stimulate some reasonable discourse about the need for responsible firearms ownership, and in fact London has a great chance to do so as the city prepares to host the 2012 Olympics.

But instead of viewing Olympic shooters and shooting events as a demonstration of something positive, quite the opposite was happening.

London schoolchildren are eligible to receive 125,000 free tickets to Olympic events -- but they were initially disallowed from using the tickets for shooting events.

An unidentified source told the London Evening Standard, "We decided it would not be appropriate. It's the only sport children will not be able to go to as part of the Ticketshare scheme." And Danny Bryan, founder of Communities Against Gun and Knife Crime, said, "It is good kids should enjoy the Games but there's no way we should glorify guns."

Reaction from the British shooting community came quickly. David Penn, secretary of the British Shooting Sports Council, said: "There is no link between Olympic-level shooting and crime. It's like saying that a thief would use a Formula One car as a getaway car."

Christopher Graffius, of the British Association for Shooting and Conservation, said: "The Olympics represent the international peak of safe and responsible shooting. Children can see far worse on their TV screens and interact with far worse on their computers."

One assumes that kids will, for example, be eligible for a free ticket to Olympic boxing. And wrestling. And judo. All sports that have been known to draw real, live blood and break bones.  And let's not forget fencing, javelin throwing, and all the other sports that simulate combat of one kind or another.  But letting a youngster watch an event that requires the ultimate in discipline, concentration, self-control and sportsmanship; that is what Britishers can't abide. 

The final hypocrisy was this. The London Games website  posts the following on the page devoted to shooting events:

"Get Involved
In the UK, more than 350,000 people currently practice the sport, with equal numbers of boys and girls entering competitions. Find details of all the shooting clubs and facilities in your local area by visiting British Shooting, the Clay Pigeon Shooting Association and the National Small-bore Rifle Association. You can also find lots of information on the sport on the website of the International Shooting Sport Federation."

The posting to "Get Involved" omits that fact that because of a ban on handguns, British Olympic pistol shooters are forced to train abroad.

So which is it, London? Are you ashamed of competitive shooting or proud of it?  You can't have it both ways.

Thankfully, the outcry from the British Olympic Association, shooting organizations and athletes forced the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to reconsider and reverse their initial position.  Schoolchildren will now be able to use the free tickets for shooting events.  Well done.

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