Central London estate dwellers, for instance, are largely unable to see that a blanket ban on possession of air rifles could be anything other than a good thing if it lessens the possibility of their being sniped at on their way to Tesco's by a sociopathic teen in a nearby tower block; so they'd be quite happy to vote for such a ban despite all the rural folk who see air rifles as an ordinary and safe tool for reducing the damage to crops by vermin as well as a way of getting meat to the table. So in the case of air rifles to say that the 'majority of the population' would support a ban would be to justify a poor political solution on the assumption that a simple head-count is a dependable path to the legislative good of all concerned - and it just isn't.
With the fox hunting ban though - and I should qualify this by admitting that I know approximately sod all about the actual practice of this kind of hunting - I'm really not so sure. I can't honestly see that if the aim is to reduce the predation of foxes upon livestock that this isn't better acheived by people simply shooting them in areas where this is a problem - rather than by assembling a giant armada of dogs, horses and fancy-dress riders to chase them across the fields. I understand that the hunts are enmeshed in the rural economy and have a centuries-long tradition behind them but I can't take this by itself as being a conclusive argument for supporting them since there's nothing to stop a tradition, as such, being a thoroughly dumb thing; slavery, the subjugation of women and the death penalty being only the first few of the many 'noble' and now justly-rejected traditions that come to mind. So to argue that fox hunting is a traditional pursuit doesn't do much to persuade me that it's therefore a good one; in fact, I'd say it does nothing.
Fox hunting was banned in England, I guess, largely because it was seen to be cruel; the dogs, when and if they finally find their quarry, kill them in the way that a pack of dogs will and there's much scope here for arguing that this is a 'cruel' practise - by which I suppose I understand a 'less-than-ideally-humane' one. Well, maybe. Foxes, when they find their way into chicken runs aren't themselves noted for the ideally humane way in which they dispatch their own prey - typically tearing the heads off the whole brood before making away with just one of them. Perhaps it's tricky for the Tesco-bound Islington shopper to understand that if they want a nice, 'ethical' free-range egg for their breakfast - and one that costs less than a fiver each - then foxes are, like it or not, going to have to be controlled somewhere along the line.
This might be so, but to say this still doesn't, in my book at least, make a great argument for the control of foxes via packs of hounds and crowds of scarlet-clad folk on horseback.
So, I'm unsure.
The Countryside Alliance (their manifesto here) is an organisation in the UK that campaigns for rural issues and is actively supporting the repeal of the Fox Hunting Ban. I read their manifesto this morning and while it's a little scanty on details it does state positions with which I'm sympathetic. They put the rural point of view very well and I can see that this is something that does genuinely need to be done, but even so I can't quite follow them in their unqualified support for a straightforward repeal of the ban.
I do also, I confess, have something of an instinctive knee-jerk response against the Countryside Alliance, since I felt them, a few years back, to be little more than a front organisation for the Conservative Party. This, I have to say, was mitigated a bit this morning by reading their manifesto, finding myself agreeing with much of it and realising that their Chair is now the Labour MP Kate Hoey.
It's complicated, this stuff...