Danny Nightingale's 18-month jail sentence has angered his SAS colleagues.

Bad gun laws hurt good people


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Stringent gun laws are ruining the lives of good people, with not one iota of proof that the so-called “evil of gun crime” is being affected.

Shooters are losing licences for pathetically small breaches of regulations, having to fork out thousands of dollars in legal fees to defend themselves or their firearm licence and in some cases going to jail without having harmed or even threatened anyone.

Two cases in the UK highlight how paranoid and unreasonable the legal system can be, and how devastating the effects are for the victims of a society were gun control has run rampant over reason.

Both cases, finalised in the past few days, involve successful career soldiers who’ve not only demonstrated their competence with firearms, but are held in extremely high regard by their peers and commanding officers.

Neither was a threat to anyone. Period.

One is now in jail and his family may be evicted from their home because he was in possession of a pistol he may not have known anything about.

The other has been given a suspended sentence, had his competitive shooting career and military career ruined, and will never shoot again, all because he had a cache of target ammunition.

In both instances, the men made mistakes and were, to varying degrees, to blame in what happened. Neither, however, should have been treated so badly. Their fates show us why we must fight hard against every additional step the police, politicians and gun control zealots want to take in restricting our sport and making criminals of us.

Briefly, here’s the gist of each case.

Sergeant Danny Nightingale, as SAS veteran, had been given a Glock by grateful Iraqi forces, and he planned to give it to his unit as a war trophy. He left Iraq, and his equipment was packed by colleagues and forwarded on, including the pistol. The container it was in sat unopened in his UK home for months, and in the meantime, Nightingale had suffered a brain injury that led to memory loss.

The handgun was found by police searching the house based on an unrelated complaint against Nightingale’s housemate. Despite strong support of his character from many quarters, Nightingale is now in jail for the next 18 months, his army pay has been stopped, his young family may lose its home and Nightingale has no job to return to.

Meanwhile, Warrant Officer Morgan Cook made the mistake of supervising a live-firing exercise involving a sports psychologist who was not allowed to take part. He was arrested, charged and had his gun licence cancelled. Knowing the ammunition he’d stockpiled for practice wasn’t legal, he panicked and buried it, and when it was later found he was in more trouble.

“Your actions could have resulted in that ammunition falling into the wrong hands and fuelled the evil of gun crime,” the judge said.

He has received a suspended sentence, and his 24-year army career is over in disgrace. Unofficially, Cook had shot scores that would have qualified him for the 2012 Olympics; now he’ll never fulfil that dream.

On a smaller scale back home, I know of a shooter in my local area who was charged for firearm offences. The charges were all thrown out in court. The police still revoked his licence.

These are all examples of why gun laws like those in Britain and Australia are bad laws. They ‘get tough’ on a perceived ‘evil’, but prove to be evil themselves.


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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.

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