Firearms hooliganism

Dear Editor,

Why? Raucous shouts of ribald laughter mark the trail of a gaggle of young hooligans chucking fire crackers at the frenzied dogs along the street. A gang of open exhaust bikers race a pal in a jolly wagon, woofers blasting heavy metal around the block.

Drunken shouts and insults followed by the odd chucked bottle from a party in the neighbouring building rent the pre dawn air. What do we do? Why of course, as a civic duty when victim of these antisocial outrages – we, within our rights, call in the authority.

A salvo of shotguns shatters the Sunday morning peace, shot rattling the tiles. We search about that direction – nothing seen of the concealed “shotgun hooligans”, camouflaged and still.

What do we do? Nothing. We’ve no witness at the instant of the shots, ready with tape to establish that critical 250m, even if they were visible and prepared to reveal their ID. The “hunters” have licence; it’s a permitted day in season and are not on your property. “Call the GNR” we are advised. Drop the idea and don’t waste your and their time – “no witness / no ID. etc”. Better join the shivering dogs beneath the table.

The absurd 250m criteria is the trump card for the authorities and they are quick to trot it out. The startling report from shotguns is many times louder 250m downrange than at point of discharge. A first phase would be to establish 3km radius minimum from any tourist, residential or agricultural activity.

However, the ultimate goal has to be to pressure the District Governor into accepting the unreasonableness of unfettered use of firearms within this almost suburban residential and touristic “Miami of Europe”. And then into taking the matter to the Minister to seek a ban on the private use of hunting class firearms within this special district – the Algarve. This is not about stopping “hunting” –  it’s about stopping firearms hooliganism.

A local TV weekly trumpets hunting as man’s oldest pursuit. Mmm … and what of the other. But we find no reference in Shakespeare nor Chaucer nor in the histories of yesteryear to hunters with shotguns. Sure, let them hunt but not with shotguns in today’s Algarve.

We approached the Top Dog in the Administration responsible for zoning of hunting. After his “250m/GNR” we asked as to why the activity seems to have tripled – without a break since August this year. “Farmers” have asked for special permits to protect their plantings against rabbits. Balderdash. A patient shot may be lucky to take out one in a colony of 50. And says the chief: “It’s their sport.” Such balderdash. Sport. Inconsiderate, egoistic pointless pursuits in areas denuded of birdlife by their excesses.

Why the apathy?

We have spoken to a variety of country dwellers who suffer this public nuisance, which can blight the value of homes in affected areas. We asked those with stories to tell of their confrontations with “hunters” whether they would be willing to join meaningful protest to higher authority. Allusions were made to fear of retaliation. So there it is.

One saw the entire matter form from another angle… it´s their country. Since when Madam has the reporting of antisocial behaviour, or crime for that matter, been conditional on nationality or frontiers?

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