In recent years the re-enactor or living history hobby has come under fire. Following the 2007 edition of the War and Peace show there was a huge outcry about the number of people who went to these events dressed up as German World War II soldiers. Richard commented on the reaction and the news coverage here.
Now, however, it seems as if the military history re-enactor in Britain is facing the single greatest threat to the hobby in recent years. In 2007 the government tried to ban re-enactment weapons, but saw sense, swayed by the petitions and pleas from the re-enacting community. However the government has now announced plans to ban the sale of de-activated guns, a move which would surely spell the end for the re-enacting hobby as it is today.
The government position on guns is understandable. With the recent rise in violent crime, and in particular gun crime it is no wonder that they want to crack down on gun possession. But it seems to me as if they are going about this in the wrong way. I have not heard of a single case where a deactivated Napoleonic musket was used for violent crime nor have I heard of a bank robbery being carried out with a Lee Enfield.
I love going to Military Odyssey. I have manned the Osprey stand there every year for the last three years. And I am going again this year. The thought of seeing Napoleonic era troops parading without their weapons is a sad one. Kill off the re-enacting hobby and the only way to see and experience large parts of our history will be in dusty museums and in terrible Hollywood movies. Re-enactment brings history to life and the sheer enthusiasm and enjoyment that can be seen at these events are heart-warming.
Many Osprey customers (and a number of our authors) are re-enactors...and we don't want to see this hobby disappear. An online petition has been set up to convince the government to rethink their stance http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/reenactment/ . Have a look at it. I will be signing it.