The danger posed by the European Commission's proposed restrictions on legal gun ownership was the centerpoint of the World Forum on Shooting Activities' plenary meeting, held in Nuremberg on March 3 – the day before the official opening of the IWA OutdoorClassics expo.
In the face of danger, WFSA offers the light of a hope: the hope of union. As an NGO that's engaged in bringing the voice of the gun industry, of the legitimate gun trade and of gun owners and users worldwide to multiple international entities such as the UN, the WFSA is indeed heavily engaged in bringing hunters, sport shooters, collectors, gun manufacturers and distributors, and all gun owners or other stakeholders together to form a strong and unitary front that may counter anti-gun tendencies worldwide by spreading awareness and true facts that would counter the lies and fabrications of the gun grabbers front.
A strong call to unity came from Gilbert de Turckheim – former President of the Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation of the European Union (FACE) – who detailed fifteen years of FACE's activity, and despite focusing on the conservation of hunting, clearly stated that FACE is engaged in countering all gratuitous and groundless attacks to all forms of gun ownership alike.
Same goes for Olegario Vàsquez Raña – President of ISSF and recipient of the 2016 Dr. Vito Genco Shooting Ambassador Award for his activities in favour of the development of olympic shooting specialties – who distinguished himself vastly from the typically élitist image that most gun owners have of the academic shooting world and asked all shooters, gunmakers, distributors and other stakeholders to unite to ensure a bright future to our world in all its aspects.
Stephen Petroni – President of the Federation of European Societies of Arms Collectors – addressed the plenum with a report on what led to our world currently being on the frontline against the European Union's proposed gun ban. Going back to the year 2012, Mr. Petroni openly accused former European Commissioner of Home Affairs, Cecilia Malmström, and current DG Home Firearms Task Force head, Fabio Marini, and described how the European disarmament plan is supported with exaggerated or fabricated data while all voices of opposition from the peoples of Europe have so far been dismissed as “falsified by the Stakeholders”. The threat can indeed be countered and the battle can be won, but only with the full support of the industry, gun owners' organizations, and all stakeholders.
EU is however just one of the many fronts our world is being attacked from, and William Kullman – Deputy chief of international affairs of the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) – detailed how a mix of questionable ideas and knee-jerk reactions to tragic events often lead to restrictions on all sides: national, international, UN. Kullman detailed three strategies to counter anti-gun tendencies at a national and international levels: “Be in the room” with a strong presence behind the curtains where decisions are taken; “Play chess and not checkers”, because all battles in defense of our right to own and use firearms for all legal purposes can be years long and require patience and strategic thinking; and finally, put our community's expertise at the service of our governments and lawmakers to prevend them from being manipulated by the anti-gun front or from enacting knee-jerk pieces of legislation.
Experts Rick Patterson, Andrea Luminati and Daniel Morgan took on a fundamental aspect of our battle: communication. If unity is paramount for victory, and if spreading awareness and true facts is necessary to counter anti-gun lies, then stakeholders need to master the best tools provided by modern technologies to solicit public awareness: that's the typical case of social media and other social interaction networks – tools that the U.S. gun industry and U.S-based pro-gun organizations such as the NRA and NSSF learned to use years ago, but which are still more or less perfect strangers to their European counterparts. A warm invitation to focus on communication and unity also came from Julianne Versnel – Director of Operations for the Second Amendment Foundation – in her final call to action.
Last, as a celebration of the 20th anniversary of WFSA, former presidents Ted Rowe and Carlo Peroni – whose absence was filled in for by Mr. Mauro Silvis, general director of the Italian Association of Civilian Firearms and Ammunition Manufacturers – received the 20th Anniversary Award for their committment in making the World Forum on Shooting Activities become what it is now: our voice on a global level. The WFSA may very well have celebrated its past, but now more than ever it's looking forward to the future.