The use of flares at football matches has again divided the Australian public, making headlines and generating vigorous debate.

On the one side, the devout supporters of the practice, who argue it’s an expression of passion, a nod to the game’s (and fans’) European roots, and is essential part of the football experience. On the other side, you have those who speak out against its encouragement of anti-social behaviour, potential for injury and ultimately the perception that it ‘doesn’t belong here’.

Those who speak out against flares don’t realise you’re asking a lot of football supporters, especially those who seek to emulate supporters from the leagues of Europe and South America, to give up their flares. Flares are a part of their identity and culture, much in the same way guns are woven into the culture of the United States.

Both used to inspire passion. Both are God-given rights. Legal to own, illegal to use in certain ways. That they don’t hurt people, people who use them hurt people.

Flares are their guns. Asking them to give them up is futile because without flares, football feels empty. Without them, they have no identity.

So those who are calling for flares to be banned, just pretend you’re asking an American to give up their gun. Then you’ll know the kind of person you’re dealing with.