Regular readers will remember El Inglés, who contributed a memorable scenario here last November about the possibility of a Danish civil war.
El Inglés has returned to talk about something completely different: firearms. It’s a subject that’s close to his heart, and he wants to reach out to Gates of Vienna readers (many of whom have previously shown an interest in the topic) with his ideas and suggestions.
Readers are invited to offer him feedback in the comments:
I thought I would e-mail you about something unrelated to the stuff we normally talk about. Though my benighted homeland is too foolish to allow its citizens to own firearms these days, I have developed an interest in them over the years. Given that I intend to continue pursuing this hobby as and when I have the opportunity, it occurred to me that it might be a good idea to try and develop a way of sharing these experiences with others.
Shooting can be an expensive hobby, and those interested in pursuing it outside their own countries due to domestic firearms restrictions will find it to be all the more so. This is one of the reasons why it could be valuable to have direct access to a network of people with similar interests. For example, if a citizen of, say, the Netherlands were to be interested in learning to shoot a rifle in Finland during those long summer days, it might be advantageous for them to be able to draw on the experiences of others who had already done so, instead of having to plough through a dozen Finnish hunting sites. Similarly, if a British citizen were interested in learning to shoot handguns in the US, the considerable logistical and financial difficulties involved could surely be ameliorated somewhat if people with relevant experience, contacts or interests could pool it and make it mutually accessible
I mention this to you because of your extensive network of European contacts. There is probably a correlation between concern about the types of issues that GoV addresses and an interest in firearms. Some fraction of that interest will be on the part of people who live in countries where access to firearms is restricted. I know from my own experience just how expensive and time-consuming it can be to organize shooting trips abroad.
A few points bear mentioning here. Given the opprobrium sometimes directed at shooters by the ranks of the uninitiated, it might be the case that some would like to keep their participation in this network as low-key as possible. It seems to me that this would be very easy to achieve. The network, after all, would be completely informal. It would have no name, no leader, no chairman of the board, no bank account, no hierarchy, no membership cards, and no funny handshakes. A few hypothetical examples displaying different degrees of coordination will serve to illustrate the point.
|1.||A British citizen decides to go to Finland for his summer holiday. He decides that a week visiting the lakes capped with another week of shooting/hunting would be the perfect vacation. The lakes are visited easily enough, but how best for someone with no experience of shooting, hunting, or Finnish to organize the second part? Our Briton e-mails a couple of Finnish contacts, and gets some replies a couple of days later telling him about some Finnish hunting companies that might be appropriate for his needs. Having got in contact with one of them, our would-be shooter fires various rifles throughout his hunting week, and flies back to the UK with elementary competence in rifle marksmanship and handling.|
|2.||A Dutch citizen finally decides that the time has come for him to truly become a man — he simply must fire a .44 Magnum. Not easily done in the Netherlands, though. What to do? By chance, he makes the acquaintance of a resident of Maine, in the US, whose gun collection includes every handgun known to man. The conversation turns to scratching that .44-sized itch, upon which our man from Maine suggests that our Dutchman head up that way if he’s ever in the US. A couple of months later he does so, and spends a week scratching a variety of itches, some chambered for .44 Magnum, some chambered for .45 ACP, some firing buckshot instead.|
|3.||Ten bored Flemings decide to escape the winter dreariness by heading off to the Holy Land to see what all the fuss is about. Before they go, they make contact with some proud Israeli gun owners who tell them that, should they be interested, there are plenty of opportunities in Israel to learn to handle firearms. After spending a couple of days seeing the sights, they meet up with their new acquaintances in Tel Aviv and head on down to the Negev to do some shooting. They spend two weeks burning through a couple of thousand dollars worth of ammunition each, emerging with a more than elementary understanding of handgun and rifle shooting. Those of them who were sufficiently interested also spent time learning a bit about how to hit targets at 300 yards or more, and what equipment would be required to do so.|
In this manner, people could, in principle, shoot completely informally, without having to bear the expense of learning with professional instructors, if they could meet people of like mind via the internet. There are plenty of top class training facilities in the US, but many require you to bring your own firearms and have your own transportation, whilst charging hundreds of dollars a day. I do not doubt that they provide good value for money, but you still have to have the money, and not all of us will.
All of which leaves unaddressed the question of how these contacts would be made. I propose to set up a modest, low-key blog, to which I will begin posting observations based on my own meagre, but growing, experience of firearms. You would then (assuming you were interested, of course) post a link to it on GoV, and interested readers there could check it out. It would not have a great deal of content to begin with, if ever, but that would not really be the point. The point would be that anyone interested in being a part of this network, on either side (gun-deprived or gun-providing) could then e-mail me with as much or as little information about themselves, what they wanted, what they needed, or what they had to offer, as they deemed appropriate. Assuming they consented, I could post anything they sent me on the site. I could also maintain a database of interested parties and act as a conduit for people to get in contact with each other. This second role would hopefully become redundant after a while, as different parts of the network made contact with each other without going through me.
Given that there will undoubtedly be those who see some nefarious political motive underlying this plan, it might be wise to ask ourselves now just how we would try to minimize the risk of infiltration and/or exposure by those of malign intent. The following points spring to mind:
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|1.||All participants should feel free to remain anonymous to the extent that they feel appropriate, on the Internet, in person, or in whatever other context.|
|2.||All participants should feel free to provide feedback on their experiences with other participants, be it good, bad, or indifferent, for communication on the blog as and when necessary. This would be an anti-infiltration mechanism, not a ranking mechanism.|
|3.||It might be advisable to have some sort of explicit screening system, whereby the only people allowed to give/ask for contact information at first would be people who could be vouched for my certain trusted readers of GoV. In time, those so vouched for could then vouch for others, and so on. Note that the easiest way to undermine a network of this nature would be to flood it with bogus participants, filling it up with dead nodes that eventually prove to be inactive. The flip side would be that nodes that have proven themselves active can be attached greater weight in the validation process, and will hopefully themselves provide a superstructure of great reliability.|
Anyway, Baron, I don’t know whether this is the kind of thing you would have any interest in. But there is more to life than fretting about Islam! Sometimes you just have to forget about all that nasty stuff, right?
— El Inglés
I like this idea because it’s another example of a low-cost distributed network, one that could help gun enthusiasts everywhere gain training and experience without breaking any laws.
As soon as El Inglés starts his international firearms blog, I’ll link to it here at Gates of Vienna.