Shortly after I started traveling into rural Australia, I found people willing to talk to me about firearms. When they learned I write about guns, they were happy to have a conversation.

When I boarded my train to Quirindi, New South Wales, a bit over 200 miles from Sydney, my seat mate and I were of the same generation. She told me her father had taken her to the range and taught her to shoot pistols. She had shot revolvers and later a semi-auto.

That was before the Port Arthur massacre on April 28, of 1996.

The Port Arthur massacre was the spark used to pass Australia’s extremely restrictive federal gun laws. The resolution to override state gun laws was agreed to a few days later, on May 10th.

The details of the plan, though, had been created far earlier. There was intense pressure from the media and Prime Minister John Howard (who hated guns with a passion) to pass “sensible gun laws.”

Almost overnight, Australia went from a country with middle-of-the-road gun rights, varying considerably from state to state, to a nation with extremely restrictive gun laws.

Hundreds of thousands of guns were turned in to the government, paid for, and destroyed. There were new uniform national registration requirements and waiting periods. Airguns and replicas were classified the same as real firearms.

All guns had to be locked up and unloaded, with ammunition stored in a separate place, also locked up. Most crucially, no one was allowed to legally own a firearm without stating a necessary purpose (self defense is not considered a necessary purpose).

My seat mate thought it a shame her children and grandchildren could not experience the same things she’d experienced growing up. The current generation is being taught to fear guns. She did not have hope for change in a positive direction.

We arrived in Quirindi on time. My friend, Curtis Eykamp, was there to greet me. We had met in Yuma while he was doing experimental agricultural work.

Curtis took me to the farm that his father, Roy, had built. Roy is 99-years-old and still quite clear-headed. He tells fascinating stories of shooting and hunting.

Curtis’ brother, Don, drove into the farmyard shortly after we arrived. He began talking about the problems created by Australian gun control, asserting that The Land Down Under’s “sensible gun laws” were anything but sensible.

He’s been at risk in a firearms case concerning “safe storage” for more than two years. The case did not receive much publicity. More than 50 firearms were seized, most of them high dollar collectible Winchesters. The vast majority were super grade pre-1964 model 70 rifles, with some original Colt cap-and-ball revolvers. (Australia doesn’t require registration for antique black powder revolvers.)

Most of the guns were in two safes, but the doors were open. A third safe was locked. Donald said he’d opened the safes that morning to take out a few rifles to zero them for hunting, changing scopes and adjusting the sights.

It was the end of irrigation season. After weeks of hard work, he could take some time off. He took five minutes to go down to the pivot pump and shut it off. When he returned, the police were in the yard.

A district court ruled the guns should not be destroyed, but should be transferred to a dealer, with the proceeds returned to Donald.

He could no longer possess firearms; his license was immediately canceled. Donald Eykamp has paid $18,000 (Australian) in civil fines.  There are no criminal charges before the court.

The police appealed the ruling, claiming that more than a $150,000 (Australian) of highly collectible firearms and high dollar scopes should be destroyed, along with the cap-and-ball revolvers.

As we ate supper, Roy told stories of hunting wolves from an airplane in Canada in 1954. We retired for the night.

The political problems of firearms and regulation in rural Australia are similar to those in New York. Large metropolitan areas have most of the votes and media influence…and few firearm owners. Rural areas have firearms, but not many votes. Australia has no Second Amendment.

Leaving a safe open for a few minutes while you travel to shut off a pump on your own land doesn’t present much risk on an isolated farm where the only occupant is a prosperous, 72-year-old bachelor farmer.

But “sensible gun laws” are seldom applied “sensibly.” Crime is virtually never committed with high dollar, high grade Winchester rifles topped with the finest European scopes. Cap-and-ball revolvers aren’t much of a problem when gangs are manufacturing submachine guns for their own use.

Rural Australians are paying the price for former Prime Minister John Howard’s hoplophobia, and city dwellers only too ready to sacrifice their liberty for the dream of security.

 

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included. Gun Watch

54 Responses to Australian Gun Laws Suck: Weingarten Down Under

  1. I admit to some curiosity as to why Down Under’s Finest were on his property in the first place

      • Did he have hired hands on his farm? If I read it correctly he was in his 70’s. Maybe a disgruntled employee watching for his chance to get even?

        Seems like the cops would have have to had been parked someplace close. Maybe watching thru binocs?

        When I lived on a farm it would take the law a couple of hours to get there if you called them.

    • Gun owners in Australia are subject to having their property searched at any time and without notice to assure their strict compliance with the storage laws, a job the police take seriously, as it allows them to seize guns and licenses from anyone who makes the slightest mistake..

      • Wouldn’t the Left *love* to do that here?

        Imagine – Gun ownership conditional on allowing LE to ‘confirm safe storage’ at any time, day or night…

        • Yes, they would. It’s been part of several assault weapons ban bills here in Washington state. I’m sure one day it’ll get passed by initiative. I’m not at all confident the courts would correctly strike it down as a massive Fourth Amendment violation.

      • “Gun owners in Australia are subject to having their property searched at any time . . .”

        This is what “sensible gun control” is really all about. “Progressive” is a soft-sounding definition for the kind of authoritarianism that comes from centralized planning and coercive government control of populations. In an earlier time this was called fascism. We’re seeing the same thing now.

    • From reading the article it seems obvious the police REALLY wanted those firearms destroyed. It would seem equally obvious that it was no secret that he had a significant collection on his property. Put the two together and you would conclude that the local constabulary was just looking for a chance to confiscate and destroy his guns. Even to the extent of having officers observing his activities and waiting for the chance to swoop in.

      An old guy alone and far from other people could be expected at some point to feel comfortable that he was not under observation or threat and become lax in his situational awareness and opsec. They were waiting for that to happen, no doubt.

      • You speak as though the police’s behavior was in some way unique to that situation. That kind of law enforcement aggression is every bit as common in this country as it is in OZ.

    • Well, he was apparently prosperous (“rich”) and lived alone, they probably intended to rob him, one way or another, and perhaps there is no requirement for a search warrant, either (translation=police state). We are headed there, it could be you or me next.

      And after all that effort, if you *really* think the cops were going to “destroy” $150,000 worth of someone else’s property, you are living in la-la land.

  2. Sad story. One question: why were the cops at the blokes house in the first place to let themselves in and see his safe open? Isn’t it an isolated farm? Surely they weren’t there for a noise complaint. Don’t get me wrong, if he was caught red handed banging kangaroos in his backyard or some other serious crime the cops still shouldn’t be allowed to take his property. Just wondering why they were there.

    • Supposedly, they were there for an “inspection”. But inspections are supposed to be scheduled in advance, with 24 hour notice.

      There was no notice. Then one of the officers is said to have looked into the window and seen an “unsecured firearm”. Then, of course, they claimed that had to “secure them” and entered without a warrant…

  3. “elf defense is not considered a necessary purpose”. How else are we to defend our homes and properties from them than by force of arms. if you dont stop the elfs now before you know it bigfoot is rooting through your trash while chupacabra terrorizes your goats. THE FAE ARE COMING, THE FAE ARE COMING!!!!

    Sorry, couldn’t resist.

  4. SOL…we had a little thing going starting about 242 years ago. Huge country with a tiny population needs to man up(mate!) and take back your continent…

      • What they need is a revolution. Seems like alot of countries are starting to be ruled by the urban sectors these days. Seems like Hunger Games wasn’t just a movie, it was a vision of things to come.

    • Kinda funny how places with no rights to bear arms often can’t hold onto many other liberties. Of course unless you take the Orwellian newspeak definition of rights. You know when they mean wealth redistribution ie tyranny and not liberty.

    • You may have missed it, but the “crown” didn’t believe so much in our Dec of Independence/Constitution. When we left the club the thugs did NOT extend anything to the remaining serfs.

      Apparently the criminals sent to Oz were outnumbered by the peons that immigrated. Hard to fathom why they would CONTINUE to look to eurp/uk to find fail

  5. Lest we forget: Japan considered invading Australia in the Second World War. At that time, they estimated the invasion would require ten to fifteen divisions (150,000 to 250,000 troops). They didn’t go anywhere with the concept because they needed the troops elsewhere, but Australia has a lot of land, a lot of resources and a pretty good location.

    China currently has 2,250,000 active military personnel with another 1.4 million in reserve. About 1.6 million are ground troops.

    Ya think that would be enough to crush Australia like an egg? What would make that easier? Oh, right. Having the Aussie government declare a “nuclear free zone” so that will magically repel nukes and then ordering its’ citizens to disarm. Brilliant!

    Good luck holding on to your continent Bruces and Sheilas. Hope you can whip up something other than harsh language for the task. The good old USA probably won’t rush to the aid of people who won’t defend themselves.

    • There’s a lot of countries in the world that slacked on their responsibilities cause they have always had the US to back them.

      God help them if the US can’t or won’t.

    • Hey watch in now. Oz has ALMOST 30000 troops and 59x M1A1. wow.

      They do have some very good but under equipped inf units (who HATE the Brit army with a burning passion/do NOT quarter anywhere in close proximity). They also have bought into the progtard joke allowing chicks into combat units.

      I wonder if they will call on the NRA to send firearms when the chicoms come calling?

    • Really? For some reason I recall that the invasion of Australia was cancelled because of some naval battles with the US in the area which damaged or sank their invasion fleet. But I am sure not an expert.

  6. I think there’s more to this than you’ve been told. Inspections are typically arranged weeks in advance. Surprise inspections are more-or-less unknown, unless Curtis simply forgot.

    There is a chance the police were tipped off, either formally or informally, and one (or some) of the local police officers were hoping for a big bust to assist in getting a transfer to a better posting. Rural police postings are seen as punishment postings by police officers from the cities.

    Also there may have been a directive to pick a target for a grandstand operation to scare firearm owners into compliance.

    Antagonistic cops are not unknown. I’ve heard a lot of stories about firearms licensing officers from Sydney’s Sutherland Shire being openly hostile to licensed firearm owners and nitpicking over every detail. Officers from the Parramatta local area command on the other hand were polite, courteous, and willing to ask questions about competitions.

    Incidents like this make us operate as though we could be inspected at any time. The safes are closed and locked at all times. My reloading bench has no powder, primers, or live ammunition left on the bench when finished. Everything is locked away. Unfortunately this is the new normal.

  7. Yup, it’s all a big conspiracy theory.

    (Snicker)

    Yes, the Port Arthur Massacre happened. And yes, Australian laws regarding gun possession, as well as search and seizure, are onerous.

    See, that wasn’t that hard.

    • It happened. The police response was a clusterf**k but that hasn’t changed in the 20 or so years since (look at what happened in Martin Place in Sydney in 2014 for the epitome of retarded police behaviour).

      And yes conspiracy theorist is an accurate title for anyone that disputes whether it happened and that the psycho scum bucket was the shooter.

  8. Very sad what has happened in Australia in regards to firearms. In the late seventies, during the first years of my career in the USAF, I went TDY to Darwin for a month to teach the RAAF how to work on the weapons systems of their newly acquired F-111C Fighter aircraft purchased from the US. Many of the Aussie AF guys I met were into shooting, and had their own firearms. They took us out in the boonies a couple of times while we were there for some plinking practice. It’s hard for me to fathom they way it was then, to what they have to put up with now in regards to firearms. Very, very sad!

    • The RAAF guys that I had the extreme pleasure to work with in Darwin were definitely not the “scared shite-less” type of people you speak of. Except for the Aussie accent and different uniform, they were very much like us, and we got along very well from the very first day. I found none of them to be gullible, nor lacking in character. As I said, this was nearly forty years ago and I still have fond memories of working with a great bunch of guys that I still consider Mates in arms.

    • 90%+ of us have no beef with “the authorities” and generally obey most laws yet probably that same percentage of people regularly break the law in one way or another. The likelihood of being caught doing most minor offences is minimal and if you can claim membership of any special interest group you are likely to get off with a warning for most minor shit (up to an including sexual assault in some instances which I don’t consider to be a minor offence but some judges apparently do).

      There is no active culture of defiance of the law in Australia yet many venerate famous “bushrangers” (read murderous armed robbers) as “iconic” aussies. At most people will talk shit about new laws or regulations then go on to obey them 90% of the time and only actively break the law when there is near 0% chance of getting caught ie. speeding when the cops aren’t about or doing stupid shit in your vehicle.

      The convict heritage thing is massively overblown particularly when you look at the fact that we have been importing “New Aussies” (like my grandparents) at very high rates for decades and this the section of the population that has roots in Australia pre federation is getting smaller all the time. Mostly the compliance with the rules (in the half arsed way we do it) is not due to fear of “the man” but due to a pragmatic live and let live approach that means you toe the line when the boss is looking then go back to doing it your way when he pisses off.

    • It would help if you started each sentence with capital letter and end it with single period. Structure of sentences is very important in conveying your ideas and paragraphs make them easier to read. That should take care of the headaches.

  9. The biggest mistake you keep making at TTAG is that you keep claiming Australia has uniform gun laws when we definintely don’t. Think of it as similar to the way that the US all falls under the 2nd Amendment for gun laws yet you have a huge range of laws across the states from the pants-on-head retarded (California & NY which are equivalent to Western Australia in stupidity) to more permissive regulatory regimes in other states (only slightly over here).

    The National Firearms Agreement was a document that set guidelines for the states to follow in drafting their own firearms laws because the responsibility for firearms legislation remains with the states even after Port Arthur and all the other incidents we had (mostly before PA but some after). John Howard threatened to withhold Federal funding and some taxes that were collected on behalf of the states if they didn’t agree to the changes and that is how it got forced through. Each state is free to amend it’s laws at any point on firearms and yet even if they decided to roll it all back it wouldn’t help because we basically have no domestic firearms industry (aside from some boutique manufacturers) and the feds are responsible for border control and could block the fun stuff from coming back in via legal channels, not that they can seem to stop the bikie gangs from posting in large quantities of glocks fresh from the Austrian factories.

    The fact that idiots with no clue about firearms wrote the laws means that there were quite a few “loopholes” for us to exploit when it came to arguing the details on specific models and action types however every round of review slowly eliminates those gaps in the legislation.

    • I would like to make a comment and suggestion here, if I may.

      TTAG is The Truth About Guns. While this is a U.S. based site and is focused primarily on U.S., the issue of guns is not strictly a U.S. concern. TTAG frequently comments on gun rights issues world-wide and if the comments to those articles are any indication it is of interest to the readers. Most of us, anyway.

      Might I suggest that those readers of TTAG from outside the U.S. who have specific knowledge of their local laws and attitudes consider writing and submitting for publication to this site? There is a link at the bottom of the page for “Write For Us” where you can submit copy for consideration (as long as you are not Joe R /sarc).

      News from England, Germany, France, Australia, Russia, even China would be of interest to all since the issue of the natural right to the most effective tool(s) for self-defense is not limited strictly to the U.S. It just so happens that we are lucky enough to have the (heavily battered, but still standing) Second Amendment to rally around.

      Personally I think it would be interesting to read informative and well-written articles about guns, gun laws and gun rights, even about hunting, from disparate places around the world.

      What say you, Mr. Farrago?

      • Good point/idea.

        However I believe the US Dec of Independence is the only legal foundation for a nation now existing that recognizes natural rights (as life/liberty/pursuit). And then has a Constitution based on defining the LIMITS on the government it creates. So unique as is any right to self defense.

        • The Declaration of Independence is a historic document (of great interest, I might add), but it is not a legal document.

    • UnPC Aussie……thanks for your replies. It’s nice to get unvarnished facts from somebody who is from and lives in Australia, and knows first hand how things actually are there.

  10. I was there in 1998 after the confiscation. In NSW there seemed to be compliance but north in Queensland no one gave a shit. That’s probably changed in 20 years as guns have dried up but the people I worked with had a molon labe attitude at the time
    Cities and media controlled the narrative just like the UK and Canada when it came to guns. If we are not diligent it could happen here. Remember She won 300 counties out of 7800 and could have been calling the shots right now.

  11. Australian states will not repeal or roll back their gun laws that are based upon the National Firearms Agreement.

    The is as much chance of that happening as their is of Texas or Alaska passing a handgun ban.

    The only thing that will change this is when 3D printing becomes so advanced and commonplace that weapon restrictions are unenforceable.

    Australia has the same problem Canada and most of Europe has. It’s a true “one person one vote” system with no electoral college to mandate a regional consensus. Australia is ran by Perth, Sydney, and Brisbane.

    Before the 1990’s, most Australian states had decent gun laws. They were similar to Michigan back in the 1990’s except they didn’t have registration. Carrying a firearm in public (openly or concealed) was subject to a may issue permit and they weren’t easy to obtain. Queensland and Tasmania were the easiest but they were by no means issued on a shall issue basis, picture counties in California where the sheriff will issue if you have a “decent reason.”

    Western Australia, A.C.T. Victoria, and The Northern Territory had more harsh gun laws. Western Australia was always the worst with universal licensing and registration going back to 1931, they were pretty much like New York is today. What was surprising was that even with the big city mentality of New South Wales, they had fairly liberal gun laws until the early 1990’s when they passed handgun registration (before the national agreement of 1996 which was written in 1987).

    Overall, within a 10 year period, Australia went from being one of the more friendly places in the world for gun ownership to outright being hostile.

    This was able to be accomplished because few people actually owned firearms for personal protection and the rate of ownership was very low. Due to this, a couple of mass shootings was enough to get the populace who never owned a gun (the vast, vast majority of the country) to decide that “guns needed to go.”

    Even without Port Arthur, the gun laws were bound to get worse in Australia. Even Tasmania (which allowed full auto with no special license) passed a purchase permit system and registration for handguns in 1991. So the writing was on the wall anyway.

  12. What a wake up call. I’d thought Australia a viable nation to live in. I stand corrected. Sounds like there is no freedom from government oversight anywhere. Imagine what it must be like in the non-rural areas an cities. Seems like the world is dying a horrible socialist death. A few laws at a time. I’m glad to be an old man. I have my memories & I know what a free nation was…

  13. Australia, a nation comprised of the descendants of criminals, who would have guessed they would be afraid of the bureaucrats, politicians, and cops?

    Time for the Aussies to grow a spine and challenge “the system” if they don’t they’ll remain unarmed and subject to subjugation by the recent arrivals ie. Moslem Jihadists and gang members who obey NO laws.

  14. Posting under 2 different names in the same thread does fuck all to inspire confidence in you or your suggestions, mate.

  15. This story doesn’t make sense. How could the police know his safes were open and he had stepped away and showed up to bust him all in 5 minutes ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *