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by Matt Campbell

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I am not a fan of guns.

I dislike everything they stand for. I’m a pacifist, someone who believes that bullets and bombs aren’t a reasonable measure to achieve outcomes in 2016 despite the best intentions of the minority menaces that seem to think the opposite.

They worked in the past, don’t get me wrong. Guns have helped people achieve things across the world. And I know, we couldn’t expect the authorities to fight fire with fire without firing a firearm, although even that has been challenged in recent times.

These days firearms are a symbol for all the things that are wrong with society. Gun-toting terrorists appear in propaganda films and images. Rap music adds gunshot sound effects as if egging on gang members to steal lives.

And then there’s America, where guns – or perhaps more correctly, shootings – are as commonplace as stories about celebrity wardrobe mishaps in mainstream media.

What does all this have to do with cars, I hear you ask?

Well, I think it’s time car manufacturers put a bullet in any association they may have with guns.

What got me thinking about this was British company Land Rover’s announcement earlier this year that it will bring the, as Car and Driver tactfully put it, “fully loaded” Range Rover Holland & Holland Edition to America.

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Holland & Holland is a renowned British gun maker, which has been selling firearms to the well-heeled in the UK for years.

Sure, over there it’s not such a big deal. There hasn’t been a well publicised shooting in the UK in… oh, wait, it was pretty recent – that chap in Yorkshire shot that lovely female MP because he had a problem with government stuff.

But in the US, mass shootings are an almost-daily occurrence. As President Barack Obama said in a recent speech on gun laws, there were more than 350 mass shootings in the US in 2015 – yep, and there was only one week in that year that went “shooting free”, according to Al Jazeera. Indeed, the States was home to 1000 mass shootings in the 1260 days from January 1, 2013 to June 13, 2016.

America’s gun laws are a farce. The National Rifle Association (NRA) clearly has its collective sights set on anyone who tries to push back with common sense. Just look what happened when Obama tried to introduce legislation around gun ownership…

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It has, as we’ve seen, been such a burning issue for the most powerful man on the planet, that he recently wept openly that the mindset was so set in the US that guns are just part of life. The guy must be exhausted.

Look, I get the appeal of protecting yourself. If anyone on the street could have a gun, and you don’t know what their motives may be, then it seems – I wouldn’t say logical, but at least arguable – that carrying a firearm could be considered by regular Joes.

And I know that hunting is still a thing people do, and guns can be vital for farmers – sometimes pests need to be eradicated. Hunting has long been a prestigious past time of the rich and famous. It was once a glamorous activity that highlighted your social standing – you’d kill a defenceless animal and then cut its head off and put it on your wall. Very alpha.

But the tide is turning. In recent times you will likely have seen reports of a dentist who shot a lion. He was lambasted for being a massive jerk.

Then there was that woman who posed with a giraffe she shot. What a hero.

And there have been Aussie icons, like cricketer Glenn McGrath, who was photographed toting a gun next to dead African animals following a “legal and licensed” safari hunt in 2008. He received death threats.

There are even family photos that sees mum, dad and the kids posing alongside their kill. Disgusting.

While those things may not be directly related to cars, automobiles and arms have forged a relationship that cannot be ignored.

There was once a Dodge Ram Sportsman that came with a pair of his-and-hers Remington pump-action shotguns. It even came with matching vests and glasses. There are other examples, too.

Dealerships have got in on the act in America for ages. Recently, Hagan’s Motor Pool Auto Repair and Sales in the state of New Hampshire promoted a deal for customers to “buy a car, get an AR”. An AR, for those who aren’t aware, is an assault rifle. Something that would be more at home attached to the back of a US Army soldier than old mate Joe Bloggs who just picked up a bargain Chevy Silverado truck.

Here’s proof that this weirdness really exists:

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And Hagan’s? Well, it’s owned and run by an army veteran.

So this Range Rover isn’t the first new car to have been offered with guns as part of the sales pitch. But in this writer’s opinion, surely it has to be the last.

I hate guns, but I know they have a purpose to serve. And I know that people are gun enthusiasts, just like I’m a car enthusiast. They might not get cars like I do. They might even hate cars, like I hate guns.

I just wish Land Rover would take a leaf from Bentley’s book – that brand just launched a fly fishing edition of its Bentayga SUV. Yep. That’s much more civilised.

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