Monday, 27 August 2012

Tonnes of neurotoxic chemical (1080) poisoning our water supply every year.

Recently I was alerted to a documentary on research from NZ that speaks about the devastating environmental effects of sodium monofluroacetate, or 1080 as it is more commonly known.

I've always known it has been widely used to control feral animals in NSW National parks, but I was never aware of its devastating effects. It wasn't until I began to question the motives of the anti-hunting lobby groups that I began to uncover something far more sinister, the true agenda of the anti-hunting lobby groups. Supported under the guise of environmentalism by the Australian Greens, a party too lazy to do it's own research and has a history of only supporting the idealistic side of an argument.

Before we start, please watch this video.  It is nearly two hours in length, but it won't take to be convinced we must ban the practice of aerial baiting in Australia.  As the makers of the film describe it:

“Poisoning Paradise - Ecocide New Zealand” takes you into the drop-zone of aerial 1080 operations, beneath the canopy, where the birds and animals die. For the first time, supported by scientific evidence and indisputable footage, this film fully exposes the truth about a culture that is believed will eventually see New Zealand's image tarnished, and an international embarrassment." 

One particular lobby group, the Invasives Species Council, seem to have been very vocal in their opposition to recreational hunting in NSW National Parks on the grounds that it is ineffective at controlling introduced species.  This lobby group are the same group that work with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife service on aerial baiting programs.  As with all lobby groups, someone must be funding them.  I suspect it might be the manufacturer of 1080 poison in Alabama, USA.   Australia and NZ consume 92% of the world supply of 1080.  What is the obsession with this poison?

Lets delve deeper.   The Invasives Species Council's biggest threat is the recreational hunting lobby groups.  Why? Because if we can prove that recreational hunting and the issue of bounties on feral animals by Government is an effective means for pest eradication, they would be out of a job!

They often quote "The Game Council" when suggesting how ineffective recreational hunting is controlling feral animals.  If this were the case, why are they so afraid of them?

What they fail to mention is the Game Council is required by law to limit the issue of permits to no more than one permit per 400 hectares of land.  Of course recreational hunters cannot be as effective in eradicating invasive species when you compare them to the alternative - an alternative that involves aerial dumping of thousands of tonnes of toxic poisons throughout our National Parks every year.

They cite figures such as $3 million annual cost to tax payers to fund the Game Council.  Money they would rather see re-directed into aerial baiting programs and bigger kickbacks.

I decided to explore their website to see what expertise they really have when it comes to feral animals.  Click on first link of the left called feral animals to see what we find.

Three paragraphs telling us how bad foxes, cats, rabbits and pigs are for the environment.  Thanks ISC - I never knew!!!

Scroll down further and the first link you see is a link titled "Hunting of feral animals, is it conservation?"
Lets follow this link to explore deeper.

Their first claim is "But evidence (including the failure of numerous bounties) shows that, at best, hunters can supplement more effective methods of feral animal control or provide control in small, accessible areas." 

Victoria supports recreational hunting in national parks via a permit system from the Department of Primary Industries.  In October 2011 they issued a bounty of $10 per fox scalp and recently hit the 100,000 milestone, paying out $1 million to recreational hunters.  You can read the media release here....

The second claim is  "Funding recreational hunting as a primary method of control is a waste of taxpayers’ money. There is also the risk that opening up public lands to hunting creates an incentive for maverick hunters to shift feral animals into new areas - as has occurred particularly with pigs and deer."

How is funding recreational hunting a waste of tax payers' money and where is your evidence to support this claim?  When was the last time NSW issued a bounty?

The Game Council was set up to support recreational hunting in NSW but the uptake has been slow, largely due to bureaucracy.  I often plan a hunt in a NSW State Forest, only to discover they have exceeded their permit issuing quota.  One thing is for sure, the more people become licensed, the less of a burden it will be on the tax payer.  Increasing the hunter to land ratio would also encourage more hunters to hunt.  Costs to the tax payer will not increase because of the economies of scale.

Suggesting maverick hunters in this day and age will shift feral animals into new areas is ridiculous.  Feral animals are everywhere.  Sambar deer that were introduced in Victoria have migrated all the way to Sydney.  Animals will always breed and explore new habitat - that is simply nature.

The NSW environment minister recently admitted the National Parks and Wildlife Service only removed 25,000 feral animals in the previous 12 months.  It's a bit rich to claim 10's of thousands of recreational hunters couldn't match that.  I personally shoot hundreds of feral animals every year.  You can listen to Robyn Parkers comments made on lateline here.

Andrew Cox, the President of the Invasive Species Council also has opinion pieces published by the ABC.  Here you can read one of his anti hunting pieces.  As a lobby group potentially getting kickbacks to supply the government with more 1080, this screams of conflict of interest.

David Shoebridge is just as guilty.  He would rather our water supply be contaminated than over-come his Hoplophobia (fear of firearms).  Regardless of the science.  He is anti hunting and anti-guns.  Can you really trust him to make the best decisions for the environment?

I could go into further links on this page, but I think you get the idea.  It's all anti-hunting rhetoric supported by the Greens with no real science to back it up.

Watch a video on the poisoning of Australian dingoes here.

Learn the facts about recreational hunting here...

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Carrying a concealed weapon in Australia

I'd like to propose that Australia introduce a licensing system for citizens to carry a concealed weapon (handgun) in Australia.

This will be a tough sell as most people have never handled a pistol, don't understand the safety features, and have been brainwashed by the media and politicians for decades - creating a society that has an irrational fear of firearms.  Jeff Cooper coined the term 'Hoplophobia' back in 1962, describing it as a "mental disturbance characterised by irrational aversion to weapons".  

I want you to put aside your irrational fear of firearms for a moment while I present you with some facts:
  • It is not possible to ban guns from a society - read my blog here to learn why.....
  • Violent crime in Australia is up and comparable in many ways to the United States.  The media and our politicians love to hide this fact from you.  In Australia, a woman is three times more likely to be raped than in America.  
  • You might say you don't want an American gun culture.  I don't either and I'm not proposing that.  I don't support the idea of self-regulation and the private sale of firearms and ammunition to anybody and everybody.  Background checks, licensing and training are essential for anyone who wishes to use a firearm in Australia.  Learn the facts here why we are nothing like America when it comes to gun culture. 
  • Because Americans have guns they are more likely to shoot each other.  You will often see statistics of gun deaths in America compared with other countries claiming this is the case.  What they fail to mention is that most of those deaths are attributed to suicide and because firearms are so readily available, they are the tool of choice for suicide in the US.  Suicide is just as concerning in Australia, it's just that we choose instead to jump at the gap or gas ourselves in the garage.  The population of America is 14 times greater than that of Australia, so a per capita comparison is more like 715 America / 60 Australia deaths by firearms.  I have included a graph below that shows how much more likely you are to die by other means in the US. 
  • In the last two decades, the UK has introduced the most restrictive gun laws in the developed world, banning many types of firearms.  During this time crime has skyrocketed and criminals are the only ones with guns.  Read more here... 

As a law abiding Australian citizen who goes to work and pays his taxes, don't you feel the Government should be doing more to protect you from violent criminals?  I'm sure they believe they are doing the best they can, but the problem is their strategy is wrong.  Criminals get too much of a free ride these days.  Violent offenders brazenly rob, rape and beat people with little fear that a good citizen will step in to put a stop to the attack.

Police cannot be everywhere to protect everyone.  There is about one police officer per 500 citizens and each officer works 40 hours during a 24/7, 168 hour week, reducing the ratio to 1:2100.  Then you need to factor in how much time they actually spend on the beat, rather than doing paperwork, time in court etc.

Policing is not a proactive business with respect to violent crime.  It's impossible to tell when and where a rapist might attack and potentially give you a nasty disease.  There's not much you can do about that disease after the fact either.  You can't sue AIDS or Hepatitis C in a court of law.

Now I'm not suggesting for a moment that you or your daughter carry a concealed weapon to protect yourselves, but what I am proposing is that those good citizens who are trained and licensed to use pistols should be legally allowed to carry in public in their own personal time.

Why can't an off-duty police officer choose to carry a pistol when he is doing his grocery shopping, or an armed security guard or sporting pistol shooter for that matter?  Approximately 0.5% of Australians are trained and licensed to use pistols.   How brazen would a criminal be knowing that 1 in 200 citizens would be only too happy to step in and assist another good citizen like yourself in distress?

Here are some figures from the US to show that firearms aren't responsible for as many deaths as the media would like you to believe.

Firearms safety training is standard the world over.  In Australia, comprehensive training, testing and vetting is mandatory for anyone seeking a handgun licence for target shooting.

Police, armed security guards and military personnel all under-go the same background checks and training.  Learn more about the process here...

Florida was one of the first states in the US to introduce conceal carry weapon permits.  Just look at how the murder rate has dropped since the introduction.

You have a choice.  You can continue to believe the media, political spin, lies and fear-mongering, or you can choose to believe that authorities recognise they cannot control criminals, so they control the law abiding.  Lobby your government to allow licensed people to carry and remind them Article 3 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person".

Research this topic further here...

Comments also welcome on FACEBOOK.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Australia is becoming America

How often have you heard journalists or politicians flippantly make the statement 'Australia is becoming like America' in the context of the gun debate?

Before I start to compare Australia with America, some background information regarding our firearms laws and history is in order....

After the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, Australia introduced the most comprehensive reforms to our nation's gun laws achieved by any government, excluding countries and dictators that had successfully introduced an outright ban.

It's fair to say we had some of the most relaxed gun laws prior to 1996.  So relaxed that even a moron with an IQ of 66, the equivalent of an 11 year old boy and with known mental disabilities, was able to buy a firearm without checks or balances.

The new laws swung the pendulum as far as possible to the opposite side and banned the purchase of semi-automatic firearms altogether.  Our firearms laws are so strict that police have the right to enter our homes to conduct firearms safety inspections.  No other country in the world has such legislation - a flagrant breach of our civil liberties as law abiding citizens.

If a licensed firearms holder has his firearms stolen, police conduct a comprehensive assessment and often charge the licensed firearms owner with breaches under the Act.  An Act so comprehensive that you need to have a legal degree to understand it.  The owner who has had his property stolen is treated as the criminal and can be charged for failing to not use the correct width and / or length dyna bolts to secure his safe to the ground or for it not being mounted perfectly flush to the wall.  The National Firearms Agreement was a framework that contained standards for the states and territories to adhere to in preparation for introducing their regulations.  Because the legislation is state-based there are inconsistencies between jurisdictions, making it almost impossible for the average Joe to understand something as simple as transportation guidelines if they are crossing sometimes several state borders on a hunting trip.

The gun laws are so complex that not even our very own NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione understands them.  In February 2012, he proposed the introduction of the Ammunition Control Bill 2012, justified by this statement "I could never understand why, if you owned a shotgun, you could go and buy ammunition for a pistol."  Read about it here....

Under the legislation, a shotgun is a category 'A' firearm, while pistols fall under a category 'H' firearm.  Read section 65 of the legislation here, which shows that you cannot buy pistol ammunition with a licence to own a shotgun.  Despite this being pointed out on many occasions, including in Parliament by the Shooters and Fishers Party, Barry O'Farrell still has not taken this duplicate legislation off the table - justifying their claim that they need to monitor and limit the sale of ammunition, which is ridiculous.  There is no evidence licensed firearms owners have supplied criminal gangs or associates with ammunition.  This is nothing but an administrative burden on firearms dealers, the NSW Firearms Registry, the police and hundreds of thousands of sporting shooters and farmers who obey the law every day.  

Ask your government to show you:
  • the cost benefit analysis for monitoring hundreds of thousands of transactions every year, taking into account the additional costs for farmers to purchase ammunition due to dealer administration costs and the additional costs (your tax will pay) to the NSW firearms registry to manage compliance and record keeping and maintenance of these databases.
  • how many drive-by shootings, murders, muggings and assaults with firearms they plan to prevent with this legislation.  
  • what is to stop people buying their ammunition across the border and / or reloading and recycling their shells and casting their own projectiles.  Tools most firearms owners have and no doubt criminals can acquire if need be. 
  • if pistols are the choice of weapon for drive by shootings, why regulate hunting ammunition?
  • ask why when advised farmers in rural communities will no longer be able to rely on visitors from the city to purchase ammunition to suit their firearms, that the Government, rather than exempting farmers from this legislation, instead agreed they would be willing to issue permits (at a cost) to these visitors to buy ammunition for any particular firearm they require.  
  • follow up the previous question inquiring why if  the purpose of introducing legislation is to restrict the type of ammunition being sold, how this purpose be met if anyone can simply apply for a permit to make a purchase?
  • ask what the quantities of ammunition shooters will be restricted to each year per firearm?
The Shooters and Fishers Party proposed sensible reforms, such as increasing the penalty for the supply of ammunition to someone who is unlicensed for that category of firearm.  But this reform was rejected by the Barry O'Farrell government.   A government akin to the Foghorn Leghorn Warner Bros Looney Toons series, with David Shoebridge mimicking little hawk, jibbing constantly a whole bunch of wonderful ideas with no real life experience, whilst Foghorn Leghorn doesn't seem to listen to anyone and certainly not his constituents.

The Greens love to jump on the bandwagon whenever there is the slightest talk about gun law reform, often making ridiculous claims that our laws are being relaxed and it's going to be armageddon on the streets, likening hundreds of thousands of law abiding sporting shooters, farmers and hunters to criminal gangs.  Criminal gangs who buy their firearms and ammunition from the black market - illegally imported and smuggled into the country via a container ships the same way drugs are.  Firearms are a lot more difficult to detect than drugs.  You can train a customs dog to sniff for drugs, but you can't train them to sniff for metal gun parts.  Yet drugs still get into the country somehow.


I fail to understand how our legislators expect us to understand these complex regulations when a politician can't seem to understand his travel entitlements.  Ask your local Greens member why he or she doesn't support the self sustainable and ethical practice of hunting.  Ask your local member why your taxes are spent maintaining an obsolete firearms registry at the cost of $70 million a year when this money could be better spent on police and customs intelligence work.

I think it's time the government cease the reckless, wasteful and offensive assault on law abiding farmers, sporting shooters and hunters and start prioritising their efforts in catching criminals.

End of rant...Now, is Australia like America?

I have put this table together to compare both great countries.  The green smiley faces represent a 'Yes', orange 'Maybe' and red 'No'

A firearms culture comparison

We are nothing like America when it comes to gun culture.  Here are a few more examples of what they do in other countries.

Switzerland - firearms training and ownership is compulsory (video linked below).
New Zealand - did not ban semi-automatic long arms.
Canada - recently removed it's long arms registry because it was ineffective and a waste of money.

None of these countries, let alone ours, has the same gun violence as you see in America.  Why?  Because it has nothing to do with gun ownership, but rather a large socioeconomic divide.  A divide we are creating in Australia because we have our moral head so far up our backside, taking up way too much time in the political debate discussing climate change, boat people and gay marriage.  I'm not saying these issues are not important, but there are real problems in our country like support for disability, mental health, general health and education.  These should be our primary focuses.  Politicians don't like to talk about these problems because they are not sexy and our apathetic population just seems to tune out.

I plan to write a blog on crime statistics in the coming week.  But to whet your appetite, did you know that you're three times more likely to be raped in Australia than you are in America?

Reference: Rape statistics.

Why does Switzerland have the lowest crime rate?  Because they don't waste money on a large defence program.  Every citizen is part of their militia and is responsible for the defence of their country.  If any country is like America when it comes to guns, it is Switzerland.

Yes Australia is the safest country in the west! Woohoo!!! WAKE UP!!!!!!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Obtaining a pistol licence for sport

Over 730,000 law abiding Australian citizens own a firearms licence to use rifles, shotguns and pistols.
Five per cent of those (35,000) own pistol licenses for target shooting sports.

To obtain a pistol licence, you need to be squeaky clean character in the eyes of the law.  You must be prepared to shoot in at least six competitions per year to maintain your licence. 

Competitions that are held on a weekly or monthly basis at your local pistol club. National and International competitions exist for serious pistol shooters.

There are a variety of pistol discipline sports to suit all interests, the most popular being:
 ISSF - the Olympic disciplines.  
International 1920 - which comprises four courses of fire:  falling plate, mover, practical and barricade.  Shooters draw from a holster. 
Metallic Silhouette - shooting at metal cutouts of rams, pigs, chickens and turkeys, cut to different scales and set at varying distances from the competitor.  Prohibited pistols up to .45 caliber can be used in this sport. 
Service Pistol - based on FBI training.
Single action - cowboys shooting revolvers and drawing from the holster.  Never shot in this competition, but it looks like a lot of fun. 
IPSC - the only pistol discipline that involves drawing from a holster and moving, often running, with a loaded pistol.  The course of fire is always unique and competitors are scored based on speed, accuracy and the power of their pistol.  Pistol clubs will generally not allow new probationary members into this discipline due to the very high safety standards and experience in handling semi-automatic pistols required.   

Your local pistol club will host an open day once a year to allow people to try the sport of pistol shooting, and you can commence your probationary pistol training at your local pistol club by simply filling out a form.  Clubs will provide instructors to supervise new shooters on a one-on-one basis.  Clubs will generally have their own target pistols for you to use.  To begin competing, you must, however, have a probationary pistol licence or a full category 'H' firearms licence, have completed your training and passed a theoretical test on firearms safety and firearms mechanics.

To obtain a Probationary Pistol Licence (PPL) in NSW you must contact the NSW firearms registry to apply for a PPL.  They will conduct a federal police criminal history check.  You must also supply two references from someone over the age of 18 that you have known for at least two years.  

Once your application has been approved, which usually takes four to six weeks, a photographic advice will be issued in the mail and you will need to attend the RTA and pay a fee to have your PPL issued, which looks much like a drivers licence, but only for firearms.

Different clubs have different training programs, but you can usually expect to do 12 weeks (usually two to three hours each weekend) of classroom and practical training.  You cannot miss any of the training sessions.

At the end of the 12 weeks, you will be asked to sit a comprehensive test that focuses largely on safety and firearm mechanics.  If you pass, you will be issued with a safety certificate that you will need to submit to the NSW firearms registry.  Before you can submit your first permit to acquire a pistol,  you will also need to submit evidence to the registry from your local club that you have competed in at least three pistol competitions.  The waiting period for submitting your first permit to acquire a pistol is six months from when your PPL was issued by the RTA.  The permit issue waiting period is an additional 28 days to that six month period.  Whilst on a PPL, you may only apply for a permit for two pistols, but  cannot purchase a rimfire pistol and a centrefire pistol.  You can only purchase two centrefire pistols or two rimfire pistols.  Pistol owners across Australia cannot understand why this bizarre legislation exists.  All purchases must be made from a licensed firearms dealer.

A PPL holder can apply for a full category 'H' licence after 12 months and can own whatever pistols they desire, providing their club discipline coordinator believes they are suitable.  Pistols must have a barrel length of at least 120mm and magazine capacity is restricted to 10 rounds.

To raise your pulse and to get you excited about pistol shooting in Australia, I've attached a few videos of the exciting and dynamic pistol discipline IPSC.  If you have any questions, please feel free to reply to my blog.  Thanks for reading, have fun and most importantly be safe.  

Fast IPSC shooting by J J Racaza

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Recreational Hunting in NSW National Parks - Will you be safe as a bushwalker?

The Shooters and Fishers Party recently did a deal with the Barry O'Farrell Government to once again allow recreational hunting in NSW National Parks.

There has been a lot of media spin and hype about the arrangement, with Bushwalking Clubs leading the charge on the fear campaign, claiming they will no longer be safe out bushwalking.

Outrageous claims have been made that bullets will be flying over their heads, hunters shooting anything that moves, and hunters shooting native wildlife.  They believe recreational hunters are amateurs and don't meet the stringent guidelines to which professional shooters are required to conform.   They falsely claim these stringent standards are set by the NPWS (National Parks and Wildlife Service).  Some staff and rangers in the NPWS are also against the proposal because of safety concerns. While some of those fears may be genuine, I believe many just want to protect their own personal interests, as professional contract shooting jobs are at stake.  I hope through a process of education we can alleviate those safety concerns.

I did post a link of my blog on the Wild Walks Facebook page but the administrator deleted it and has banned me from posting again.  Obviously the truth is hurting their campaign.  If you do have a facebook page, please post this link again on their page so members of the public who do stumble across their page have the opportunity to learn the facts. 

As a recreational hunter myself, who has also done some professional shooting, I've written this blog with the particular purpose of dispelling some of the myths about hunting on public land.

I hope you take the time to read my thoughts and the facts I am presenting, and come to the conclusion that the proposal to once again allow regulated hunting in NSW National Parks is not unreasonable.

I've broken down my analysis of the issue into the following parts:
  • the types of hunters; 
  • the scientific evidence to show hunting is one of the safest sports;
  • where a game council hunter can hunt and what the rules are;
  • the recent joey shooting incident in a National Park;
  • the licensing process to become a Game Council recreational hunter;  
  • the licensing process to become a a professional shooter; 
  • the argument recreational hunters are not effective to control feral animals; and most importantly...
  • firearms safety.
Background: I'd like to point out that hunting in National Parks is not revolutionary.  NSW is one of the few states that do not allow hunting in National Parks.  The practice was banned some decades ago.  Since then, our parks have been run down under a NPWS 'lock it and leave it policy'.  Victoria has never banned the practice of hunting in its National Parks.  A hunter who has a valid firearms licence, regardless of his or her state of residence, can apply for a permit through the Victorian Department of Primary Industries to hunt in Victorian National parks (excluding populous areas like ski fields).

In 2002, the NSW Labor Government approved hunting on public lands under a trial program with the view to expand hunting to all public lands in NSW, including National Parks.  The opposition Liberal Government at the time opposed the proposal.  The proposal went ahead and the hunting regulatory body, known as the Game Council, was created.  Professional shooters and other experts created the framework that was largely adapted from the FAAST (Feral Animal Ariel Shooting Team), a government professional shooting program, and tailored it for non-commercial recreational hunting purposes.  Hunting areas included 480+ State Forests and crown land under a highly regulated system.  Experienced hunters and members of an Approved Hunting Organisation could apply to undergo training and testing for the privilege of obtaining a Game Council 'R' licence to hunt on public land.

As you read on, I encourage you not to stereotype the highly regulated, trained, certified and licensed recreational hunter with the thousands of untrained cowboys who own unregistered firearms and do not respect the law.  These people are the true amateurs.  They do not respect the law.  They have previously hunted and will continue to hunt on public land, regardless of the law.  Licensed hunters have a vested interest in stopping these people as we want to change the perception of hunting to help protect our lifestyle - a lifestyle that is truly green and self-sustainable.

1.  The Types of Hunters 

Hunters essentially fall into five categories:
  • Unlicensed shooters:  citizens with unregistered firearms.  The AIC (Australian Institute of Criminology) refers to these shooters as "the grey market".  I have heard estimates from various sources of between 1-3 million unregistered firearms in this market, however the AIC claims "It is not possible to estimate the size of either the grey or illicit markets.  The grey market may be substantial, but there are no reliable estimates of the volume of it or the illicit market.".   The black market is much smaller and is defined as the organised crime/criminal market. 
  • Amateur bow hunters:  anyone can buy a bow without a licence or training in the state of NSW.  I suspect this is the type of individual who shot the joey kangaroo accidentally.  I won't provide comment as to what I believe really happened in this instance, but I'm sure you'll be able to draw your own conclusions, when you finish reading my article.   
  • Licensed shooters:  usually farmers, or friends or relatives of farmers, who cull feral animals on private land.  Firearms safety training and federal police criminal history checks are required.  Approximately 700,000 Australian citizens have such a licence.  
  • Game Council Licence holders:  bow hunters or licensed firearms owners.  Both groups must be members of Approved Hunting Organisations and attend regular hunting workshops to keep their skills sharp and refreshed.  If they wish to hunt on public land, they must study for and sit the Game Council 'R' licence examination.  These requirements are in addition to the requirements of becoming a licensed firearms owner, should they wish to hunt with firearms.  I haven't been able to confirm this figure (will update when I have the numbers), but I believe there are approximately 20,000 Australian residents with a NSW Game Council 'R' Licence.  
  • Professional shooters:  must sit the FAAST training and firearms licence safety training, as well as undergo criminal background checks.  These shooters are generally employed by the DPI at significant cost to manage pest culling programs, often via aerial targeting, at great expense to the tax payer.  They also manage baiting programs, dropping 1,080 bait, which indiscriminately poison native fauna. 
2.  Hunting:  one of the safest sports:

The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM) recently compiled a report for the Game Council, which shows that hunting and shooting is one of the safest sports.  It details 25 case studies containing all hunting related deaths from 2000-2010 across Australia, from data gathered from the National Coroners Information System.  You can read the full report here.

The report shows that there has been an average of 2.5 deaths related to hunting accidents every year and contains a case study for each event. Hunting related deaths account for 0.1% of all accidental related deaths 

There has not been a single example whereby a bushwalker has been shot by a hunter.

You can view the statistics in greater detail by clicking on this image below.

There are approximately 1200 road fatalities every year but only 2.5 hunting related deaths where the hunter or his hunting companion was shot.  Ask yourself, what is the true likelihood that you would be shot accidentally in a National Park?

Each year 250 of all accidental deaths relate to falls.  Wouldn't you be so much more likely to die on your drive to the National Park or have a fall on your walk than to be shot by a hunter? 

I'd also like to point out that a highly trained and regulated Game Council hunter has never been shot nor his hunting companion in the 6 years since hunting on public land was introduced.

You might be of the belief that the reason there are so many more road fatalities than hunting accidents is because many more people drive compared with how many people shoot.  Consider the fact there are over 700,000 licensed firearms owners in Australia, and many farmers with unregistered firearms not included in that statistic that shoot feral animals on an almost daily basis.  The Sporting Shooters Association of Australia has over 150,000 members, many of which shoot in pistol, rifle and shotgun competitions on a weekly basis at hundreds of clubs across the country.  The perception there isn't a lot of hunting or shooting activity in Australia is false.  Many shooters don't advertise their hobby because of political correctness.  I wouldn't be surprised if some people were unaware they had a friend with a firearms licence.

3.  Where is a Game Council Hunter allowed to hunt and what are the rules?

Currently, only in state forests and on crown land, and only with a valid permit issued by the Game Council.  National Parks in NSW will soon be open for recreational hunters, but only 10% of them.

The permit is issued by an online system to ensure an appropriate number of hunters, based on the size of the park.  The hunter is issued with detailed maps of the area, including exclusion zones, where s/he is not allowed to hunt.  Typically, these are high traffic areas for bushwalkers, camping grounds, lookouts and other significant points of interest.  The hunter is not allowed to shoot at night. 

4.  What about the joey that was shot in a national park?

Game Council hunters take their hobby very seriously and invest a significant amount of money on equipment - equipment that under the provision of the law can be confiscated for illegal activities.  Their firearms licences can also be seized, as well as any other firearms they own.  

The average Game Council licensed hunter could have an investment of between $10,000 - $50,000 worth of equipment that could be seized for a single illegal act.  

We would like you to appreciate that hunting is our livelihood and we don't just blast away at random animals indiscriminately.  On most hunts, I've never even fired a shot.  And when I do, it is not over a ridge or at an object that I cannot clearly identify.  We often sit patiently, listening intently for wildlife, and will always hear a bunch of bushwalkers jibbering from hundreds of metres away.  We always use binoculars to scope a target and never load a live round into our firearm until we are ready to shoot. 

Illegal shooting in National Parks has always occurred.  Criminals do not obey the law and there are fools in every sport that give serious hunters a bad name. 

The bow hunter that shot the joey inhumanely (shown on the WildWalks website) was not a licensed Game Council hunter.  The arrow was also a target arrow, not a broad tipped arrow, as is required under law to be used for hunting.  

Game Council hunters have on many occasions worked with rangers and the police to report illegal hunting activities.  We will identify and report illegal activity to protect our sport. 

5.  What does it take to become a Game Council recreational hunter or a professional shooter?

Wildwalks claims there are "Stringent Guidelines" set by the NPWS for professional shooters and that recreational hunters, who are licensed through the Game Council, are amateurs.

I'm a little offended by the statement, especially when they have clearly shown they do not know the first thing about hunting.  Making claims that bullets will be buzzing above their heads is just sensationalist nonsense.  It is also the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) that regulates professional shooting standards for the NPWS, not the NPWS as WildWalks claims.

Let's analyse the definitions of "professional" and "recreational".

The definition of a "professional" is that someone merely does something for a "profession".  

"Recreational" means we do it as a "hobby".  

Hunting safety codes are standard the world over.  As a Game Council licensed hunter who meets all of the Governments stringent hunting requirements and someone who has been assessed to be fit and trained to hunt on public land, how does that make me an amateur?

A professional driver could be a taxi driver.  Does that mean as a licensed motorist with 20 years driving experience that I'm an amateur driver? 

The guidelines to becoming a professional shooter can be found here and are referred to as the FAAST training (Feral Animal Arial Shooting Team).  The guidelines to obtain a recreational hunting licence can be found here.

Apart from the section titled "Helicopter Operations and Principles of Aerial Shooting" and "Work Process Risk Assessment" (OH&S related stuff for a government contractor), the training and stringent testing is much the same.

But I'll let you be the judge.

6. Recreational hunters not effective in controlling feral animals.

I've heard a lot of commentary from people suggesting recreational hunters are not as effective in controlling feral animals as professional contract shooters.  If that is the case, I'd love for someone to explain to me why since the lock down of hunting in National parks in NSW there has been an explosion of the feral animal population.  Could they also explain why the Koala population in NSW is threatened (most likely due to foxes and wild dogs) and why this is not the case in Victoria where recreational hunting in National parks is legal.  Could they also point out why they would rather pay taxes in a debt riddled state for the Government to hire professional shooters when recreational hunters are willing to do it for free?

Another argument is that recreational hunters make it more difficult for professional shooters to do their job because when they shoot the animals scatter deeper into the bush.  This is complete nonsense.  Feral animals are everywhere and professional shooters cull from helicopters.  There is no deep bush.  There is just bush.  I've yet to hear an answer from people with this argument as to why since hunting was banned in National parks in NSW have sambar deer been spotted on the outskirts of Sydney when two decades ago they were only known to have been inhabiting Victoria.

Read more about the effectiveness of recreational hunting here.

All these points aside, there is one overriding fundamental point I'd like to make that trumps any argument in this area and that is my right as a free law abiding citizen to carry out my lawful recreational practices without having to answer to people who have no justification or evidence what I do is causing anyone else any harm. I'm not going to set up a facebook page to ban knitting because you might poke yourself in the eye.  Every recreational activity has risk associated with it.  Hunting, despite peoples perception, has a very low risk of injury or death.   I encourage everyone who reads this blog to stop the nonsense that has turned Australia into the nanny state that it is.

And for the record, i'm a deer hunter, so the feral management effectiveness argument doesn't even rate as far as i'm concerned.  I want to harvest my own fresh free range organic meet for the cost of a bullet and a little bit of time.  I could start to carry on about my practices being more environmentally sustainable given that I eat less beef and contribute less to the methane problem, but that is a whole other argument that isn't relevant in this debate.

7.  Firearms Safety Video

I'd also like to highly encourage you to to watch the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA) NSW safety video below.  It is an excellent video that will give you confidence in the comprehensive training the organisation provides to its 150,000+ members.  This training is preliminary to subsequent training required to obtain a Game Council 'R' licence.    

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Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Worlds Smallest Pistol - More media crock....

Recently the media posted an article on the worlds smallest pistol, manufactured in Switzerland, claiming it can kill. Read the article here...NEWS - Worlds Smallest Pistol

The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service has a hard enough time stopping real pistols coming into the country by organised criminals, yet that didn't stop them jumping on the bandwagon - assuring the public not to fear this terrible new weapon and that they will work with domestic and international authorities to stop it being imported into the country. 

What the article fails to mention are two things:

1.  How powerful is it?
2.  How expensive is it?

Like any fine Swiss watch, it's going to be expensive. Revolvers have many moving parts and are precision machined to ensure the cylinder rotates perfectly and stops exactly where required, before the round is fired.   

The cost of this particular novelty firearm is about A$6,500.00.  

Now, lets look at how powerful and dangerous this gun really is.  

The website shows the projectile weight is 0.128 of a gram and the projectile energy is 0.97 joules.  

Let's compare bullet energy types (in joules) from guns that can actually kill.  

The energy from a .22 caliber round struggles to kill anything larger than a fox, but of course could kill a human with a well placed heart or head shot.  But a.22 has 159 times the energy of the swiss minigun.

The article claims it can kill at point blank range, but let's have a look at the muzzle energy over a distance on this graph.

Muzzle energy over time  <- Scroll to the bottom of the page.  Second graph from the left. 

At 50 metres, the energy drops from 0.97 joules to 0.90 joules.  A difference of 0.07 joules.  So why do they claim it's only lethal at point blank range?    


I reckon my nerf gun would do more damage!!

But seriously, let's assume I was involved in organised crime - why would i spend $6,500 on a toy when, I can get a real gun for a 10th of the price that actually kills?  Could you imagine the Comancheros having an all out war with those little toys?

What is of greater concern is my tax payers' dollars being wasted on bureaucrats actually targeting the illegal importation of these toys. 

Another sloppy piece of journalism from Kate Calacouras.  

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

John Howard - Gun reform since 1996 Port Arthur Massacre....

John Howard recently had an opinion piece published in the Sydney Morning Herald spruiking how good he did with his gun reforms back in 1996.

There are many points in this article that I'd like to pick apart, but I'm not going to bother because it's all emotive crap.  I'd rather focus on one key point in the study and that is the increased safety to the community.  In this article, he referenced - that is research published in 2010 in the American Journal of Law and Economics, which claims that firearm homicides in Australia dropped 59 per cent between 1995 and 2006 and that "there was no offsetting increase in non-firearm-related murders".

To claim removing 700,000 guns from society would not offset an increase in non-firearms related murders is ridiculous and demonstrates there is an agenda at stake and bias in the research.

But don't take my word for it.  I've linked research from the Australian institute of criminology that shows a fairly level trend of the homicide rate in Australia over the last 18 years.  So it begs the question, if there was no offset in the increase of firearms related homicides, what value was there in spending a billion dollars implementing the strictest firearms controls of any country in the OECD (UK excluded), and having tax payers fund hundreds of millions of dollars annually to maintain firearms registries and regulate the law abiding activities of farmers and sporting shooters?

Australian Institute of Criminology - Homicide

Another point to consider is the prosperity Australia experienced during the mining boom over this period before the GFC.  You don't need to be a genius to understand socio-economic factors are the most influentual determining factor of the suicide or homicide in any country.  One can only speculate how much lower these statistics would be if John Howard redirected $500M from the semi-automatic gun buy back and ongoing costs to run firearms registries into mental health services.

"Gun ownership is rising and there is no definitive evidence that a decade of restrictive firearms laws has done anything to reduce weapon-related crime, according to NSW's top criminal statistician." - Read more here.... 

Semi-automatic firearms are easier to use, but not necessarily quicker.  Watch this video to see how quickly a competent shooter can load a lever action rifle (non semi-automatic) and can manually load and fire rounds with a shotgun.

Here you can see how quickly an experienced archer can shoot arrows.

Bottom line:  one shot from a gun can kill, knives stab people, pencils misspell words and spoons make people fat.  The notion that people will be safer if we ban certain types of guns is silly and the ideology is flawed.

You can read John Howards opinion piece here....Brothers in arms, yes, but the US needs to get rid of its guns

Date:  August 1 2012

John Howard

Australia was right to take a different path to the US and opt for gun control.

EARLY in 2008 Janette and I were guests of the former president, George H. W. Bush or ''41'', as he is affectionately known, at his Presidential Library in College Station, Texas.  I spoke to a warm and friendly audience of more than 300, who enthusiastically reacted until, in answer to a request to nominate the proudest actions of the Australian Government that I had led for almost 12 years,  I included the national gun control laws enacted after the Port Arthur massacre in April 1996.

Having applauded my references to the liberation of East Timor, leaving Australia debt free, presiding over a large reduction in unemployment and standing beside the US in the global fight against terrorism, there was an audible gasp of amazement at my expressing pride in what Australia had done to limit the use of guns.

I had been given a sharp reminder that, despite the many things we have in common with our American friends, there is a huge cultural divide when it comes to the free availability of firearms.

Just under two weeks ago, my wife and I were in Dallas, Texas, when the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, took place.  The responses of President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, his presumed Republican opponent, were as predictable as they were disappointing.  While expressing sorrow at such a loss of life, both quickly said that they supported the Second Amendment to the US constitution: long regarded as providing an extensive right for Americans to bear arms.

The Second Amendment, crafted in the immediate post-revolutionary years, is more than 200 years old and was designed to protect the right of local communities to raise and maintain militia for use against external threats (including the newly formed national government!).  It bears no relationship at all to the circumstances of everyday life in America today.  Yet there is a near religious fervour about protecting the right of Americans to have their guns - and plenty of them.

In this respect it is worth noting that the local police claim that James Holmes, the man now formally charged over the Aurora shootings, had in his possession an AR15 assault rifle (similar to one used by Martin Bryant at Port Arthur), a shotgun, two Glock handguns and 6,000 rounds of ammunition.  All had been legally obtained.

Obama and Romney are both highly intelligent, decent men who care deeply about the safety of Americans.  Yet such is the strength of the pro-gun culture in their country that neither felt able to use the Aurora tragedy as a reason to start a serious debate on gun control.

There is more to this than merely the lobbying strength of the National Rifle Association and the proximity of the November presidential election.  It is hard to believe that their reaction would have been any different if the murders in Aurora had taken place immediately after the election of either Obama or Romney.  So deeply embedded is the gun culture of the US, that millions of law-abiding Americans truly believe that it is safer to own a gun, based on the chilling logic that because there are so many guns in circulation, one's own weapon is needed for self-protection.  To put it another way, the situation is so far gone there can be no turning back.

The murder rate in the US is roughly four times that in each of Australia, New Zealand and Britain. Even the most diehard supporter of guns must concede that America's lax firearms laws are a major part of the explanation for such a disparity.

On April 28 1996, Bryant, using two weapons, killed 35 people in Tasmania.  It was, at that time, the largest number of people who had died in a single series of incidents at the hands of one person.

The national gun control laws delivered by the Howard Government following this tragedy received bipartisan support.  They, nonetheless, caused internal difficulties for some of my then National Party colleagues.  Tim Fischer and John Anderson, then leader and deputy leader of the National Party federally, as well as Rob Borbidge, then National Party premier of Queensland, courageously faced down opponents in their own ranks to support a measure they knew to be in the national interest.  Many believed, in the months that followed, that hostility towards these gun laws played a role in the emergence of Pauline Hanson's One Nation cause.

These national gun laws have proven beneficial.  Research published in 2010 in the American Journal of Law and Economics found that firearm homicides in Australia dropped 59 per cent between 1995 and 2006.  There was no offsetting increase in non-firearm-related murders.  Researchers at Harvard University in 2011 revealed that in the 18 years prior to the 1996 Australian laws, there were 13 gun massacres (four or more fatalities) in Australia, resulting in 102 deaths.  There have been none in that category since the Port Arthur laws.

A key component of the 1996 measure, which banned the sale, importation and possession of all automatic and semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, was a national buy-back scheme involving the compulsory forfeiture of newly illegal weapons.  Between 1996 and 1998 more than 700,000 guns were removed and destroyed.  This was one-fifth of Australia's estimated stock of firearms.  The equivalent in the US would have been 40 million guns.  Australia's action remains one of the largest destructions of civilian firearms.

Australia is a safer country as a result of what was done in 1996.  It will be the continuing responsibility of current and future federal and state governments to ensure the effectiveness of those anti-gun laws is never weakened.  The US is a country for which I have much affection.  There are many American traits which we Australians could well emulate to our great benefit.  But when it comes to guns, we have been right to take a radically different path.

John Howard was Prime Minister from 1996 to 2007.