Saturday, April 10, 2010

A bizarre story from Australia

Even wooden guns are "unsafe". The RSL is Australia's major veterans' organization and runs clubs throughout Australia. I am myself a member of one and do occasionally stop to look at the weapons and memorabilia display inside

HUNDREDS of harmless historic RSL displays, containing rifles, machineguns and cannons, may have to be removed from public view because they are unlicensed. The red tape farce, which will hit clubs throughout Queensland, was triggered in Cooktown in the far north where police last week confiscated two guns – including a replica firearm made entirely of wood.

Cooktown RSL members have lashed out at the crackdown that requires them to prove the guns are inactive following a complaint from a local pacifist who felt the weapons promoted war and violence.

RSL Queensland chief executive Chris McHugh yesterday admitted an unknown quantity of weapons on display in more than 80 clubs across the state would have to be taken down if found to be unlicensed. A law introduced after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 requires weapons made after 1900 to be proved inactive and registered with the Queensland Police Weapons Licensing Branch, with gun barrels required to be welded shut.

"While we don't have any problems with the law introduced after the Port Arthur massacre, it has always caused us some grief and hassle and we would hope it would be applied with some common sense," Mr McHugh said. "We'll be sending out reminders to all clubs about their obligations. It is a massive amount of paperwork."

A wooden replica of a Vickers machinegun and a rusted World War II machinegun, had been displayed on the roof of two RSL buildings in Cooktown's main street for more than a year but are now being held in the police station until licences are processed. Despite being rusted through after spending 30 years in a Cape York rainforest, the World War II machinegun must be licensed to prove it is inactive.

The wooden replica requires a separate licence because of its likeness to the real thing.

Cooktown RSL sub-branch secretary Jim Fay was stunned when told he had to dismantle the guns and hand them in to police. The club is fighting to get them back on display and has installed a plastic water gun in place of the confiscated weapons until they're returned. "They are going to have to go around Australia and check every gun in every RSL, because I'm pretty certain we're not the only ones in this crazy situation," he said.

The confiscated weapons are classified as Category R, which includes fully automatic machine and submachineguns and any replica or facsimile of a machine or sub-machinegun that is not a toy.

Mr McHugh was disappointed by the petty nature of the complaint that led to the guns being removed, saying they had become a landmark. "Over 100,000 Australians died at war fighting for the rights this whinger [whiner] enjoys today," he said. "The RSL and sub-branch does enormous work in the local community and we're disappointed someone would be so petty to say it glorifies war."

The Cooktown woman who lodged the complained told The Sunday Mail she was proud of the efforts of Australian soldiers but was disgusted at displaying "killing machines". The woman asked not to be named for fear she would be targeted by those opposed to her pacifist views.

"My grandfather was a World War I digger and he came back a shattered man, so I don't think he would have approved at all of the public display of these killing machines," she said.

All guns on display at Norths Leagues and Services Club at Kallangur are licensed, but treasurer Shaun Smith can understand why clubs may not have appropriate licences. "If a gun is made of wood and it's been on display for ages it's a bit of a joke to make them take it down to get a licence," he said.

"All the weapons we have on display are certified as inactive . . . but it's understandable that there are examples across the state where things haven't been done so thoroughly."


FL: Road rage shooting justifiable homicide: "The second killing involved Christopher A. Alfaro, 24, who was found shot in the head April 1 shortly after ramming his car into another motorist during a road-rage attack. In the road-rage killing, 38-year-old Craig Wickersham contacted police after the incident. Alfaro, 24, and a passenger were driving south on Cassat Avenue about 2 a.m. when they got into a road-rage squabble with Wickersham, police were told. Alfaro rammed his vehicle into Wickersham's, which is considered an aggravated battery, Schmitt said. Wickersham, who had a gun and concealed weapons permit, fired at Alfaro's car. Alfaro was shot in the head and crashed at Cassat and Shirley avenues. An investigation found no evidence that the shooting was anything but justified and Wickersham was not charged, Schmitt said."

GA: Fatal shooting in club parking lot: "Octavis Mabry, 26, of Carrollton was shot early Sunday morning in the club’s parking lot by security guards following an altercation between Mabry and another man, Latrampus Crowder, 22, also of Carrollton, according to the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office. Mabry died later at Tanner Medical Center/Carrollton. Crowder and security guard Kevin Ridley, who were both shot by Mabry, were treated at area hospitals and released... “I didn’t know the situation would turn out like this,” Ridley said. “However, when he had that gun, all I could think to do was to stop him before anyone else got shot. Ridley said he has not hired an attorney because he was informed by the Sheriff’s Office that his actions were in self-defense."

Kentucky: Man shot to death while forcing his way into home: "Police in Carter County are investigating after a shooting Wednesday morning that left a man dead. The shooting happened at about 6 a.m. at a home on Clark Hill Avenue in Olive Hill. Police say Boyd E. Littleton II, 45, was shot to death by homeowner Carl Bright when Littleton attempted to forcibly gain entry into Bright’s residence by kicking both rear and front doors of the house. Littleton was shot after he managed to kick in the front door. There have been no charges filed against Bright by the Kentucky State Police"

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