In Australia, you must have a Firearms Licence to own a gun. You have to register the gun, as well. But first of all, you. And that’s not so easy [Mr. Bond]. The Land Down Under is a “may issue” country. With a vengeance. Wikipedia gives us the 1234: “For each firearm a ‘Genuine Reason’ must be given, relating to pest control, hunting, target shooting, or collecting. Self-defense is not accepted as a reason for issuing a licence, though it may be legal under certain circumstances to use a legally held firearm for self-defence.” If you’re not licensed, possessing a gun is a serious crime. Woe betide anyone who gives a firearm to an unregistered person. Someone generous like gun collector Ray Drane . . .
Obviously, a bad, bad thing happened when Mr. Drane leant his friend Carl Parkin a “polished Czech model” .22 rifle. In an extremely well-written account for theage.com.au, Peter Munro tells the tale:
The next night, June 16, 2008, Parkin parked by the car of his estranged girlfriend, Annette Brown, in a concrete smear between a tyre shop and the Silly Seahorse Play Centre, in Chelsea Heights. The air was chill and still. The pair argued outside their cars before Carl shot Annette, then himself. Beside his body, which lay face up on the bitumen, was the gun he had borrowed from Ray Drane.
The recoil from those shots hit many of Carl and Annette’s family and friends, like any violent death. But Ray bears more scars than most.
He and Carl, 60, had hunted together twice in their close friendship of more than 25 years, shooting rabbits near Steam Plains, in southern NSW, and flushing pheasants from wheat stubble north of Bendigo. Ray loved guns and boasted a prized collection of more than 80 firearms, including pistols from the American Civil War. Carl was the first person to whom he lent one.
Here’s the nub of the matter: Ray Drane says he thought Carl Parkin had a gun license. Reading between the lines, I doubt it; two hunting trips in 25 years? If Parkin wasn’t a hunter, what other “Genuine Reason” did he have for receiving said license? And if he was licensed to own a gun for varmint control, why would he need to borrow a gun?
More generally, are we to believe that Parkin was bullshitting Drane for 25 years?
Just like yesterday’s IGOTD, there’s a tendency to excuse lax gun safety behavior. After all, nobody believes that Drane leant Parkin the gun to shoot himself and his ex-girlfriend. Many would consider the sorrow and public approbation “punishment enough.” Add in the mandatory sale of his prized collection and it’s clear Drane had his butt kicked for a lapse in judgement.
But the point remains: Drane should not have given a gun to Parkin. I’ll go even further: Drane shouldn’t have handed over one of his guns to anyone who wasn’t involved in the sale or servicing of firearms.
I reckon a responsible gun owner never lets one of his or her guns out of their sight. You don’t know what’s going to happen to that weapon once it’s gone. It’s not probable that your largesse will lead to the kind of horrific violence experienced in this case. But it is possible. As is a chance that the gun will get stolen from your “friend” and used in a crime.
I’ll go even furtherer: never show off your guns to your friends until and unless you’re hunting or shooting down at the range/wide open space. From a home security point-of-view, I don’t want anyone to know where I keep my guns. And a home is not a “sterile environment;” all kinds of distractions can lead to all kinds of trouble. And tragedy.
So how could Drane have shared his love of firearms with his friends? A separate room in the house might have sufficed. But the more people who know what you got and where and how you keep it, the worse it can be for you, mister.
So never mind whether or not you’re legally able to lend a gun to a friend or acquaintance. Just don’t do it.