125,000 UK Kids Forbidden from Attending Shooting Events at 2012 Olympics

Earlier this year, in a blog post about Great Britain I wrote this:

"I am, by and large, an anglophile. I love British shotguns, British humor, the famously dry British wit, British history, British gundogs, but every now and then I see something from Old Blighty that makes the American in me exclaim 'Dude, WTF?!'"

Well, color me ditto, because when I saw this story about how London school children will be given 125,000 free tickets to the 2012 Olympic events - except any events involving guns - I about fell out of my chair. WTF, indeed!

From this story in the London Evening Standard:
_London schoolchildren are eligible for 125,000 Olympic tickets but these will not include any featuring guns, as Games organisers and City Hall fear a backlash from the anti-gun lobby. Giving children tickets to the events, at the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, could have appeared at odds with Mayor Boris Johnson's bid to quell teenage gun and knife crime.

_

A source said: "We decided it would not be appropriate. It's the only sport children will not be able to go to as part of the Ticketshare scheme." The youth ban will anger some elements of the British Olympic shooting establishment which already feels marginalised by Games organiser Locog. Georgina Geikie, 26, a Commonwealth Games bronze medallist and Olympic pistol hopeful, said she was "horrified", adding: "This is a chance for children to look at guns in a different way. They are taking away the opportunity for the sport to blossom. How do we educate people that it is a sport if they cannot watch it?" David Penn, secretary of the British Shooting Sports Council, said: "There is no link between Olympic-level shooting and crime. It's like saying that a thief would use a Formula One car as a getaway car."

It simply buggers the imagination, doesn't it? I've always resisted the typical American hunter's tendency to bash all things British in regard to its gun laws, its ongoing assault on rural hunting traditions and its attitude toward criminals because I've always thought Great Britain is a wonderful and endlessly fascinating place that shouldn't be automatically reduced to a caricature just because its culture is different from ours. But this kind of utter stupidity easily makes the leap across any cultural divide. Bad form, chaps...