Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Shhhhhh! The Bias Against Suppressors

Suppressors, sound moderators, silencers. The first thing that comes to mind is a Hollywood action movie where an assassin screws a silencer to his or her high powered sniper rifle to make a whisper quiet kill shot at 1000 yards.  Just like most things in Hollywood movies, it's all make believe. Suppressors don't instantly make firearms whisper quiet.  Perhaps somebody should tell that to the police in the state weapons licensing branches throughout Australia. For some misguided reason, the police do not want ordinary citizens to possess and use such devices. 

The benefits of using sound moderators far outweigh any risks. Continuous exposure to loud noise is a health issue.  For those of us who participate in competition shooting every weekend, hearing loss is inevitable.  You only have to head to the range and speak with the some of the more senior participants to know that they are hard of hearing. Personally, I'm only 38 and have a hearing aid for my left ear and I am beginning to lose the higher frequencies in my right.

 Says it all really

A typical sound moderator will reduce the noise produced by a firearm by around 30%. This by no means silences a rifle but it does have considerable health benefits to shooters and the management of their respective ranges.   

So what does the Queensland Government say about exposure to excessive noise and hearing loss in the workplace?

From the Queensland Government's WorkCover website:
Engineering controls for existing plant and workplaces 
  • Adding noise barriers, noise enclosures, vibration isolation mountings, laggings, mufflers and silencers where appropriate to reduce noise at source.
  • Using sound-absorbing baffles between workers and the noise source.

An employer that fails to make every effort to reduce the amount of dangerous noise within a workplace can be held liable for any injuries caused to employees.  Last time I went to a large shooting range, the range officers and firearm safety instructors were being paid and are classed as employees.  Are competitive shooters and recreational hunters not entitled to the same protections that everyone else is entitled to?  Are the police being negligent to law abiding shooters by denying us an additional means to protect our hearing?  They are Queensland Government employees, surely they don't have the power to legislate against workplace health and safety laws!

Many ranges are coming under significant pressure to reduce the amount of noise and have had to create noise management plans. These can be in the form of physical barriers and also by restricting the operating hours of ranges.  The use of sound moderators would significantly reduce the amount of noise produced which would mean a win for shooters and nearby residents.

In many countries like New Zealand and England, it is considered poor form if a hunter does not use a sound moderator, their use is encouraged! 

So why are we different in Australia? Surely the police must be privy to some information that they don't have in NZ or England, but you'd have to ask the police for the real reasons behind the legislation that outlaws their use. They do write the gun laws after all. 

Like every law that has been created, those that are determined to can and will break them if they so desire. A sound moderator can be easily fashioned from an empty plastic coke bottle, some metal gauze, steel wool and some duct tape. It virtually makes the outlawing of sound moderators seem like a really bad joke. Countless youtube videos show just how easily they can be constructed.

For years, shooters have been trying to educate our police & politicians of the health benefits of using sound moderators, unfortunately our pleas continue to fall on deaf ears.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Queensland Secret Police Service?

Before we move to the reason for this post, I have to say this. I have a lot of respect for our uniformed police officers that are putting themselves on the line to ensure that order prevails in our communities. No doubt it is a very tough job that a lot of ordinary citizens wouldn't have the courage to do. Personally, I don't think I'd like to do it.

Now please ponder this paragraph below 

"The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment.

You may have heard these words before, they belong to US President John F. Kennedy.   In this speech reproduced above, he refers to those that wish to "guarantee security" in exchange for the people giving up some personal freedom. There are many who think that this speech and his beliefs were the reason for his assassination.

I never thought too much about it, never thought that there was that kind of secrecy and concealment in Australia, let alone in my state.  That was until this week when a pro firearms parliamentary researcher stumbled upon a document that reveals that the Queensland Police Service are conducting in secret, a full review of Queensland's firearm laws, with absolutely zero input from the firearms community. No consultation, no external review and no real oversight from a parliamentary committee. 

"Law abiding gun owners, have you got your lube ready?"

 This woman created this mess. She has since been sacked but her replacement is also ignoring us!

We know that senior police in Queensland do not like the private ownership of firearms.  If it were up to them, nobody except the police would have guns. The reason for this is that they view everybody as being guilty of a crime but they just haven't been caught yet. Police have also admitted to the people that they cannot protect us, its not their job. They generally turn up after a crime has been committed, a reactionary force.

The way that the Police will get their review converted into law is to say the words "terrorism & terrorist". They already have a boogeyman to use as an example. The Lindt Cafe siege in Sydney is still fresh in the collective minds of the Australian public and it is being used as the catalyst for further restrictions. The politicians will want to be seen as being tough on terrorism & crime so tightening the gun laws for them will be a given. 

The news media will print and air any and every anti-gun story that they can come up with because this year is the 20th anniversary of the tragic and horrific Port Arthur massacre. This will stir up the sentiment within the sheepish public that normally don't care about gun laws here, because there isn't a gun problem in Australia.  There never really has been. The mainstream media are guilty of marketing hype and playing on the fears of the public that generally don't know the truth about firearms and their use.

We know that further restricting guns from the law abiding people is an exercise that bares no fruit when it comes to public safety because only the law abiding will follow the rules. The Lindt Cafe siege is proof that those that wish to obtain firearms illegally can and will continue to do so.  The pump action shotgun used by the terrorist was already made illegal for ordinary civilians to own way back in 1996 after the Port Arthur event.  Don't expect the media to highlight this fact because it doesn't suit their narrative. 

Pump action shotguns are already illegal in Australia.  
Its also illegal to modify a gun in this way.

Australia could learn so much from other countries when it comes to firearms legislation. Canada and New Zealand once had firearm registration and it has been proven in both countries that it was a total waste of taxpayers money, therefore, they were scrapped. Why do the senior police and politicians keep pushing the same tired and unworkable gun laws on the citizens. The money could be better spent on health care and mental illness initiatives or even on our veterans injured physically and mentally after serving in Afghanistan & Iraq.

Earning respect from the community is a two way street.  Alienating licensed law abiding gun owners is not a smart idea when you need the help and respect of the public as a whole.  Perhaps senior police officers in Australia could learn a thing or two from Sheriff David Clark Jr. He is proactive in working with his community rather than alienating them. It's a nice idea but I wont hold my breath.

Conducting firearm legislation reviews in secret is repugnant in a free and open society, however it seems that Queensland is not free and open anymore.

If you wish to assist us in fighting this secret review, join www.shootersunion.com.au and take the proactive steps listed on the home page.