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Want to Make Something More Popular?

Ban it. Apparently across the pond fox hunting is more popular than ever:

Yet a bigger factor appears to be that exquisitely delinquent streak in the British character that reacts against the hectoring and bossiness of officialdom. As a result, thousands of people who previously had little obvious interest in hunting have taken it up.

“Our membership has doubled to around 1,000 since the law was passed,” says Sam Butler, the Warwickshire’s ebullient Master. “The support we are getting from the communities is incredible.

That certainly pleases me to hear there is at least some willingness to resist intrusions into country life over there. We had a similar experience over on this side of the Atlantic with the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. The “banned” weapons had a great increase in popularity both during the ban, and after it expired. The AR-15 was not as widely owned when they were banned in 1994. Shooters generally preferred the M1A, M1 Garand, or M1 carbines. Despite the fact that all of these firearms are military arms, or of a military pattern, they were popular, and so most states excepted them from their bans. They were also exempted from the federal ban. The AR-15 was not, and was, in fact, targeted by state and federal bans by name. Seventeen years later, and seven years after the expiration of the ban, the AR-15 is far more popular than any of the exempted firearms.

The ban had the unintended effect of piquing interesting in the banned rifles among shooters, and many competitors found the AR-15 more accurate and better suited for shooting matches. Collectors also developed interest. Americans, I believe, also possess the same “character that reacts against the hectoring and bossiness of officialdom,” as their British cousins.

My first rifle was an AK-47 patterned Romanian SAR1, which was not covered by the ban. I bought it specifically to make a statement. I didn’t really get into shooting in any serious way until later. In fact, it was the Assault Weapons Ban movement that made me start paying attention to the right to keep and bear arms, and developed my concern that the Second Amendment was in serious danger. I think there’s a whole generation of shooters who became concerned about their rights specifically through the 1994 ban.

I could make a good argument, in hindsight, that lobbying for, and eventually passing that ban, was the biggest strategic mistake the other side made. It was a bridge too far. It’s refreshing to see the fox hunting ban in the UK may be having the same kind of effect, especially since much of it is being driven by the political dominance of urban dwellers in the UK, who know nothing of the English and Welsh countryside, but who want to regulate life there heavily nonetheless, their traditions and pastimes be damned. That can have unintended consequences, and as our opponents on the “assault weapons” issue here would probably be willing to admit in their weaker moments, that doesn’t always work out in their favor over the long run.

6 Responses to “Want to Make Something More Popular?”

  1. JeremyS says:

    Most certainly. Owning a .50 BMG rifle would ordinarily be quite low on my “someday” list, but thanks to the paranoid CA legislature, it has moved up to top 3.

  2. mobo says:

    My impression of the Brits is that they bend over and take it square up the balloon knot without so much as a question every time they’re told to. What other possible explaination could there be for their situation?

  3. Thirdpower says:

    Way back when during the ‘D&D causes suicide’ craze, sales went through the roof since everyone wanted to know what the big deal was.

  4. David says:

    I have a unique insight into this one, half my family lives south of London. They feel that everything has to be for the collective good, even if it harms a large swatch of the population. They are so afraid of offending someone that they practically say nothing when they object to what’s going on.

    They are also slowly giving the country away to eastern Europeans and Arabs. The EU immigration policy rewards people in poor countries and penalizes the U.K., Germany, and France.

    There is also this general attitude that it’s the governments responsibility to do everything for you. My Brit relatives are helpless, weak, and lazy. People will openly litter, because it the job of the council to clean the streets.

    I could really careless about ever going back to the U.K. Everything is tiny, cold, expensive, and boring.

  5. Alpheus says:

    Perhaps we need more gun bans then! At least, I *might* be for an occasional gun ban, if we could guarantee that such a law would have a sunset in it. Do you think the Brady Bunch would be willing to compromise on that? >=)

    On a more serious note, I remember L. Neil Smith talking about how interest in .45 1911s were waning, in favor of 9mm cousins, until the 1994 ban: by limiting the magazine capacity, everyone wanted guns with a bigger caliber.

    It’s nice to know that, even when the gun banners win, they don’t always win! But it’s still important to be vigilant, because we can’t always count on sunset provisions. (After all, the Brady Bunch isn’t as interested in compromise as they make themselves out to be!)

  6. Windy Wilson says:

    We can’t be certain of a sunset for any unconstitutional gun ban. The People’s Republic of California instituted its own Assault Weapons Ban similar to the Federal version, and there’s no sunset in sight!

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