Bulletin #7 05-10-2009
Firearm Ownership in Australia.
Here is some very interesting information concerning
Firearm ownership in Australia. The information is from
Mr. Norbert Gross a firearms instructor who purchased
some of our Barrel-Lite® firearm Safety Inspection
Devices for his use in his classes. He writes,
Norbert is fine, Mr. Gross is way too formal, especially here
in Australia where everyone, from janitor to Prime Minister,
is known by their first name! :-)
I received your email regarding the shipping; thank you.
There should be no problems with customs or taxes
as they don't bother with anything worth less than $500.
About the gun laws in Oz. Politically, Australia is a
Federation of 7 States plus a couple of territories.
Each of these states have their firearm laws, and
until the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, there was quite
a difference between laws in each state. For example,
one state may have required a firearms license and all
guns be registered, while across the border there may
have been a permit or license of sorts,
but no registration of the guns.
By the way, there are a lot of people who do not believe
the massacre was perpetrated by Martin Bryant.
A Google search on "Port Arthur massacre" brings up
some interesting pages, for example
and Second Site
I'm usually very cynical of "Conspiracy Theories",
but you do have to wonder how he could have done
that with no military or special ops training.
Anyway, after the Port Arthur massacre, the newly
elected Federal government, keen to show a tough
stand, demanded the states toughen up all their
firearms laws and to also bring some uniformity.
They were not able to take over the legislation
themselves as the states were not willing to let
the Federal government have that power.
While the various states laws are still not quite
in line with each other, they certainly are now
closer, and mostly far tougher than before.
The main change was an almost complete banning
of pump action shotguns and semi-automatic rifles
and shotguns. Strangely, pump action rifles are still OK.
So the government spent about half a billion dollars
"buying back" the now illegal guns. I had to hand in
a pump action shotgun and was given a cheque for
around $450. Most shooting folks I know just took the
money straight to the gun shop and ordered something
they were allowed to own!
The crazy thing was that if the gun was owned illegally,
you got no compensation. So as you can imagine,
the criminals were not lining up to hand in their guns!
And certainly in those states were registration had not
been a requirement, a lot of people just didn't hand the
guns in. Some estimates are that there are still around
3 million "illegal" firearms in the hands of
ordinary folks, not criminals.
Basically, you need to have a genuine reason for owning
a firearm. That includes club target shooting, hunting
and primary production (farming), but self defense is not
a genuine reason. You need to do some safety training
and are then issued a license, after background checks
for mental illness, criminal activity, etc. And every single
firearm you get has to be registered; even paint ball and
air guns are considered fully fledged firearms!
Most shooters now have bolt action rifles and double
barrel shotguns. Lever actions and pump action rifles
are also popular for competition or with those who want
a quick follow up shot when hunting.
All the above is about long arms. Handguns in all states
have been strictly regulated since the late 1940's.
Basically, a private citizen cannot own a handgun except
for target shooting at a recognized shooting club;
it's almost impossible to get permission to own or carry
any kind of firearm for self defense.
And unfortunately, we had one incident where a licensed
handgun owner shot some people in a University, so even
these already tough laws were tightened further. Now you
cannot own a handgun with a bore size over .38, unless
shooting metallic silhouette or western action, and no
magazine capacity greater than 10 rounds.
I decided to sell some 1840's single shot pocket pistols
as they were percussion and for me to keep them I would
have had to get them serial numbered, registered and join
a collector's club! So I used the money to buy a Glock! :-)
Of course the criminals ignore all these laws, and one
report I read from the government's own customs service
estimate that for every 1 handgun going into private ownership,
3 are smuggled into the country and end up in the hands
of criminals or outlaw motorcycle gangs.
Fortunately, Australia is still generally a very safe country,
and your chances of having criminal threaten you is pretty
small, unless you are involved in the drug scene somehow.
Up until the early 60's, most Australians would have had family
or at least known someone who lived outside the main cities,
and so had some contact with the people of the "bush".
It was very common to have a .22 rifle at home, even in the city,
but with further urbanization and progressively tougher gun
laws, a lot of people found less need to own a rifle so the
ownership has dropped. I have been shown and even been
given a number of old "bunny guns" which were never
registered but still stored away in the shed or wardrobe.
So Australia certainly has a history of firearm ownership,
at least rifles, and I've even heard that the Japanese were
quite concerned about invading Australia in WW2 because
they knew that, at the time, Australia was a nation where
almost every man owned a rifle or at least knew how to
use one. I'm sure they had the same concerns with the USA.
Our NRA is the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia
(SSAA), and with around 140,000 members, is the only real
political voice shooters have here. It is estimated that about
one in ten shooters is a member of the SSAA,
(website here http://www.ssaa.org.au/) so we have around
1.5 million firearm owners in Australia, which is not too bad
for a nation of just over 20 million.
We are not exactly an anti gun nation, but of course the vocal,
well funded anti gun lobby also exists here. But we have had
a change of government recently and the current Prime Minister
has been known to do a bit of clay target shooting, so hopefully
they will leave us alone for a while!
Anyway, the safety course I run is for new members to our
target shooting club. These folks range from absolute
beginners to those with far more experience than I have,
but it is a requirement that everyone does the club
safety course. I spend a couple of hours going over the
basic safety rules as well as a general discussion about
a few other firearm related things before they do a short test.
It will be interesting to see how the Barrel-Lite will be looked
upon by other shooters here, considering that most of them
have a bolt action rifle or break action shotgun, and it is
much easier to check for an obstruction in those than
than a pump or semi-auto. I can certainly show it to the
SSAA's Technical Advisor as he happens to be a
member of my club.
Anyway, I've waffled on long enough. It's midnight here
now so it's time to hit the sack!
VP. Sales and Marketing
J. Bar Products Int'l., Inc.
1944 Cottonville Dr.
Our Barrel-Lite® is used at present by 20 USA State DNR Hunter Safety
Divisions and presented to their Hunter Ed Instructors for a training tool in
their Hunter Safety Classes. We have several Canadian Providences and the
Royal Canadian Mounted Police who uses them in the same method and in their
Firearm Safety instruction course. Plus we have 250 Dealers around the country
who have them in their sport shops. We also have many Hunter Safety Instructors
who purchase them and use them as graduation gifts for their students.
We are always seeking new Dealers, Hunter Safety Instructors and looking for
a few good distributors and sales reps or jobbers who may be interested in
presenting our product to their customers. We offer a very good commission base.