When I have been watching old episodes of Combat on YouTube recently, it has been refreshing to see the German enemy portrayed as human beings, with some as raving Nazis and others just as good soldiers, trying to do a job under tough circumstances in which they find themselves. In short, Combat was a most realistic portrayal of the human face of warfare in all its facets and most particularly of the angst that junior leaders underwent just trying to keep their men alive. It did not demonise one race of people, just because they happened to be the enemy 20 short years previously.
I have no doubt that, during the World War II years, it would have been almost impossible to see such depictions of an enemy as humans with similar traits and foibles to us; it was necessary to galvanise entire nations in a visceral, unreasoning hatred of its enemies, so that their populations could be effectively mobilised as a singularly motivated mass against a threat.
The word used to define the mass media of the time facilitating this “galvanising” is “propaganda”. The embedding of media with Allied forces during the First Gulf War and the control of media reports issuing from it was a recent example, allowing only positive depictions of allies’ involvement in that conflict. If I was the commander of an endeavour like that, I’d be damned sure I would insist on the same measures because I sure as hell would not want to be winning on the ground only to have my troops aware that the media are destroying their credibility at home, as happened in Vietnam.
So, by now you probably know where I am going with this. I am sure you all know shooters who you love to be with, great family men and women who raise beautiful children, and are engaging conversationalists; and there are others you may not want to spend as much time with, but respect nonetheless for their professional competence or pure ability as a shooter. Then there are probably one or two that you would rather not spend any time with unless you have to for whatever reason. They may be computing enthusiasts, whose endless terabytes of banter make your eyes glaze over, for example.
Whatever traits these shooters display, they represent a cross-section of wider communities and society. They display these traits because they are different from one another; their DNA dictates that some are tall and thin, some short and fat, some from European extraction, others from Asian or indigenous backgrounds, some physically attractive, others not so. Some are gifted and highly intelligent and some are more toward the lower end of the bell curve in talent.
There are really only two characteristics that unite shooters as a group or culture, if you like (notice I did not say sub-culture). Those characteristics are firstly a liking for shooting and firearms and secondly, they fall into that segment of society as the most law-abiding people in the country. This second characteristic has been defined by the legislative environment around legal shooting in this country. Already, by definition, we are way above the community norm in lawfulness; yes, licensed shooters are at the very top end of that lawfulness bell curve, something which should elicit a great sense of pride in us all.
So I ask this question. Why do we not see predominantly positive stories in mainstream media about shooters’ good achievements on the target range or in the destruction of feral scourges? Why are we constantly battling negative depictions in the media branding us all as potential killers because criminals use illegal firearms to commit a decreasing number of heinous crimes?
The answer is that, by telling positive stories about us as individuals, we become humanised in the eyes of the consumers of media. We are seen as individuals with stirling characters, intelligence, careers and aspirations, just like many other people out there who read or view the stories. It then becomes hard to paint us all as cowardly redneck baby killers.
Who is responsible for this policy of continually demonising us, the top of the bell curve in legality? The obvious answer is “tha Greens” but we must look further. With legal hunter and shooter numbers growing every day in Australia, we look to politicians and police. As a natural consequence of their occupations, they like to have control of the population, so their job becomes easier. So a climate of lumping us together with unthinking, unfeeling, fiendish criminals fights half their battle for them.
The knowledge that there are independent, good people out there who own firearms is not a source of comfort to the majority of them, because they want to be able to control not only people’s actions, but their attitudes. There is a saying that is very true: “Gun control is not about guns, it’s about control.” That has been borne out many times in history by historic “luminaries” like Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot and many others. If we all become passive recipients of “what is good for us” at the hands of governments who are not our servants, but our masters, then we deserve all we get from them.
At the top of this pyramid of abuse of information and power, we find the United Nations, that august body of do-gooders who have been unable to stem the carnage of Rwanda, Serbia and Croatia and many other beastly abuses of humankind since their formation in World War II. “Too little, too late” has been the abiding characteristic of the UN’s management of the world’s hot spots of late and it is this very same organisation that would dearly love to govern a world where there is no civilian ownership of firearms whatsoever. You need to know that it is well on the way to doing just that, as our beloved foreign minister, Bob Carr, has signed on to the convention that is step one in disarming you, me and every law-abiding shooter in our nation.
Then we will have a passive, mumbling world population, where the gangster is king, secure in the knowledge that their despised world government will not be able, or willing, to protect his victims.
The interesting fact in this despicable situation is this. There would be no Shooters and Fishers Party, no Katter Australia Party, no Country Alliance party and no National Fireams Dealers Association fighting these iniquitous government/media driven attacks if those media and governments just licensed us all and left it at that. By attempting to turn the screws ever tighter on good people, they will find the control they so dearly love all that more difficult to achieve. What was Newton’s Third Law of Motion again?
So here’s a message for those of you who would like to disarm us all. Just keep going down that same path and your lies, obfuscation, corruption and propaganda will only become more obvious. Shooter numbers will grow inexorably, as they are now, and you will lose.