When you don’t do social media
Social media is a fact of life for the majority of the population. But what are the implications for gun owners who decline to participate?
A friend of mine had difficulty when she applied for a store card, because she didn’t exist. Or at least, that’s what the credit rating agency seemed to think. She’s solvent and has no outstanding debts.
And that, it turns out, is the nub of the problem. Because she didn’t already have a credit card and had not had an overdraft, mortgage or bank loan in recent years, she didn’t have a credit rating. It was all sorted in the end, but it makes you wonder how the authorities treat such matters. And this may have implications for law-abiding gun owners who choose to keep a low profile.
I remember the head of a police firearms licensing unit telling me, six or seven years ago, that the first thing they did when assessing a certificate applicant was to take a quick look at their social media presence. She said that it didn’t take them much time. If something appeared that rang alarm bells, then they would dig deeper.
I am surprised that anybody thinks the police won’t also check them out like this. I am even more surprised by the stuff I see on social media. Some posts seem to display an attitude towards the law that most of us would find irresponsible at best.
Yet, the tragedy at Keyham has shown that the police, being only human, sometimes miss some very obvious evidence. There are now moves to make an examination of a gun owner’s social media accounts a mandatory part of background checks. (Read more on the Plymouth shooting.)
So, what happens if you don’t have a social media presence at all? How will that go down with the police? Will it look odd, or furtive, or something worse? I myself have never had a Twitter account. Nor have I ever had anything to do with Facebook, Instagram or TikTok, or any other media sites. I have no intention of doing so. I agree with whoever said: “Any idiot can blog, and most of them do.”
The same will apply to existing certificate holders about whom they had some concerns. And today, checking social media is mainstream for employers.
When my coterminous certificates come up for renewal, what will the police think? Mind you, they can find my views easily enough. I’ve been writing for Shooting Times for more than 30 years, and the publishers have put a lot of my stuff online.
I have made robust observations about the current performance of firearms licensing in certain forces, though I like to think my concerns have been well reasoned, rather than mere rants. I am most certainly not anti law and order. But what about somebody who isn’t a published writer, yet simply declines to do social media?
A lot of shooters are more than 60 years old. I don’t know of any precise statistics, but it is a safe bet that people in this part of the population are less likely to flaunt their private lives and opinions on social media. Will they suffer digital discrimination?