Friday, July 07, 2017

Australian Gun Culture Climate of Fear

Australian Farm Guns

One of my hosts in Australia gave me a lead for a story.  They knew someone with an extensive gun collection. Directions were given; the collector had been called and was waiting.  A local who was known to the collector would drive me there and make introductions.

The directions were complex, typical rural directions: follow this road; go up this hill; make a right, then go a ways and make a left. Look for the long drive with such and such a fence..

My driver understood them perfectly, and we arrived at the correct place.  The collector had a nice display, similar to many I have seen in the United States. There were deer rifles, shotguns, and a .22. There was a reloading bench and empty cases.

I asked if I could take pictures.  No problem, said the collector. Knowing a bit about Donald Eykamp's case, I was not so certain.

The collector was adamant. His set-up had been approved by the police. There was nothing to worry about. Donald Eycamp's case was a rare exception.

To my untrained eye, there were a number of "gray" areas. The fact that I could see several firearms on display was the most obvious.

We talked about guns, and legislation, and hunting. The collector was a strong supporter of the existing system. He saw no practical use for pistols. He had never been interested in them. It was clear he was an accomplished marksman.

The next day, Donald and I were performing some chores for the Eykamp farm. A part was needed for a critical piece of machinery.  As we drove to get it, I expressed misgivings about publishing an article about the collector. It seemed far too risky.  Why put an innocent man at risk for what was a plain Jane story of gun ownership?

A couple of hours later, we arrived back at the farm. A phone was in the hands of one of the Eykamps. I was called over. Had I published the story? No.

The Collector and his wife had thought it over. No, please do not publish the story, they pleaded. Her voice was frightened.  Please do not publish any pictures, any names, or any thing that might identify where I had been and who I had talked to. It was simply too risky.  Having come to the same conclusion, I attempted to reassure them. I suspect they are anxiously wondering if this Yank can be trusted.

Later, I visited a local gun store.  This one, the first Australian gun store I visited, reminded me of gun stores I have seen in large urban centers. The name was non-descript, and had nothing relating to guns about it. No signage indicated anything to do with guns. The shop was part of another building, with parking in the back. Once parked you approached a formidable door with a buzzer and an intercom.  To enter, you buzzed the shop, and stated your name and purpose. I had a local customer with me for an introduction, so we entered without a problem.

This is in rural Australia, which has a crime rate similar to Vermont; which is to say, almost none.  The owner was clear: he did not wish to be photographed.

Australians on the Internet tell me there is no problem having guns in Australia.  The local police are not bad blokes, and inspections are not common. But when they have time to think of potential consequences, the fear becomes apparent. Many of these gun owners are prosperous. They have a tremendous amount to lose, not just in money, but in reputation, and in lifelong heirlooms and treasured hunting guns.

I wasn't too surprised the collector and his wife had second thoughts about featuring him in a story made public to half the world.  It was not safe.

The Australian police forces are structured differently than police in the United States. Most police functions are done by state police. These police may view a posting to rural Australia as a punishment. This means new and young police officers may not have strong ties to the community that they police. It is these officers who are most likely to find irregularities in gray areas of the law.  A large "bust" with the confiscation of an "arsenal" could be a ticket to a more desired assignment in a large city.

Crime has generally been low in Australia. Several studies have shown that the gun laws made no difference in the Australian crime rates.

The "crimes" committed by legal gun owners in Australia are so rare as to be nearly undetectable.  But the purpose of the gun law in Australia is not to reduce crime. It is to reduce the number of gun owners. The number of legal Australian guns has increased, once people became used to the byzantine twists and requirements of the strict Australian laws put in place since 1996.  Those who want a disarmed Australia say that is proof the gun laws are not strong enough.

Australian gun owners have good reason to fear strict enforcement of their laws.  It is far too easy to violate them, even with all the common sense and good intentions that can be garnered in rural Australia.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

Gun Watch


Anonymous said...

The out back has a lot of open spaces. Plenty of room to dig. I know of a story where a guy heard about the gold strikes and wanted to try his hand . He ordered a gold detector from the states and it took six weeks to be delivered. When he got it it had to be assembled. so he put it all together and read the manual. Put his wedding ring on the floor and tested it. ready to go he thought. went out in his front yard and turned it on and it would not stop beeping. he tried everything to no avail. very upset he called the manufacturer and complained. they asked him if he tried to dig in that spot, NO? Try. he went out and dug up a 365 pound chunk of gold. so if you burry gun grabber check the hole.

Anonymous said...

the top one looks like a silver shadow over and under. when I had my gun shop I sold two of them the same day to the same person.

Anonymous said...

The man may have never had a good pistol. a pistol with the right length barrel can be almost as good as a rifle in the right hands.

ExpatNJ said...

This article demonstrates two very important principles:

1. Government cannot control guns (at least not with absolute certitude);
2. Government seeks to control people (and with success, evidently, as demonstrated by the fear/apprehension of the interviewees).

"New Jersey State Police Colonel Clinton Pagano, a determined advocate for prohibitive gun laws, has said many times, 'gun control is people control'."

Pagano's exact quote, in front of a NJ Legislature committee was:
"We don't control guns; we control people".

And, THAT is their goal!

Anonymous said...

Very clearly Proving government is out of control. Governments duty is to govern . To govern is to manage the countries business with in the limits of the constitutional mandates. all people that are legal citizens are sovereign citizens. A sovereign is a king, thus the phrase of king in your own castle is appropriate. sovereign citizens are not ruled or controlled by any one. Laws are intended to prevent any one from ruling over any other person. this is why laws must be fair and equal for every one. I can not tell you, you have to do any thing I do not have to do. You can not tell me I have to do something you do not have to do. Fact If the speed limit is 55mph cops can not go faster than 55mph. We permit cops to go faster to catch speeders. but it is factually not legal for cops to speed. with the invention of radio cars cops are required to radio a head to other radio cars to prepare to stop you. Laws have been written to allow what is called hot pursuit or continued pursuit. Until bank robbery was made a federal crime cops had to stop at the end of their jurisdiction. think back to Jesse James and his gang. If they robbed a bank and managed to cross the county line the sheriff and his posse had to stop pursuing them. If they crossed the state line the state police had to stop pursuing them. incrementally laws have been changed to increase the authority of government to control people. sure in some cases these laws have some benefit for catching criminals but these laws are to easy to abuse. one law leads to another law and incrementally the government unconstitutionally increases its control. Jesse James's gang was eventually stopped when the sovereign citizens shot back. Jesses James was shot in the back by a friend for the reward. rewards worked but the reward money did not get into the hands of the cops so the law had to be changed. we still have bank robberies did theses controlling laws change anything? banks came up with die packs. they should have invented explosive packs. makes it harder to pick up the money without fingers. or tell one bill from another if you cant see. If you show up at an emergency room covered in red die, missing fingers and cant see they might think you are one of the bank robbers. I have witnessed extreme abuse.

Anonymous said...

extreme abuse. One cop calls for back up, he is chasing a driver not speeding just driving "Hinky" cops words. Cop passes other cars in a dip at well over 90 miles an hour meets his back up also traveling in excess of 90 miles an hour, head on. Backup is cut in half by his seat belt and dead at the scene. the two cars came together so hard they bounced 20 feet apart after impact. I helped piece the first cop back together and he lived. lets look at the abuse. speeding, passing in a no passing zone, passing in a dip and what if the back up car was a car full of kids instead of another cop? Is driving hinky a felony. or were the cops committing numerous felonies? It was the right time of day it could have been a school bus.