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The handgun buy-back.

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Wednesday 16 July 2003

Tom Woodley, Olympic and Commonwealth Games pistol shooter


The Handgun Buy-Back  


I'm a licensed target pistol shooter, and have been for 37 years. I shoot the Olympic and Commonwealth Games matches and have pistols suited to that purpose. In addition, I have a short barreled revolver which, up until now, I used for the so-called “pocket pistol” match, a match authorised by the police and practised by shooters as a fun event, as relaxation from the demands of the Olympic matches. I have never used any of my handguns to commit any sort of crime and don't intend to. I, like every other licensed pistol shooter, have been thoroughly vetted by the police and declared a "fit and proper person" to own and use concealable firearms. 


My short-barreled pistol, which I own legally, has now been declared illegal by the Federal Government because of its barrel length and I am forced to hand this pistol in to the authorities for its destruction. I’ll be compensated in cash for doing this. This pistol is a one-of-a kind, custom modified revolver, which has been finely adjusted and tuned and is, in its own way, a masterpiece of the gunsmith’s art. I shall regret losing it very much. 


However, according to the politicians, this gun of mine is of a type that is considered to be "highly concealable" and a “threat to public safety”. Those same politicians also say that by taking my gun, they are removing it from "circulation" and reducing the incidence of street crime, involving this type of handgun. 


I am truly puzzled as to how the community is going to be safer by the confiscation of this particular pistol. It isn't in "circulation" anywhere. It resides, as do my other handguns, in a large, strong safe, in accordance with the storage provisions of the relevant state laws. I only ever carry my pistols to and from the range. 


If I broke the law with any of my handguns, they would all be taken off of me (and collectively they cost me many thousands of dollars), and I would be jailed. Therefore, I obey the law fully. None of my guns, least of all the one in question, is involved in any sort of crime. In other words, my possession of this handgun does NOT pose a threat to the community, and never has, but the Prime Minister says that it does, because of the Monash University murders. That leap of logic escapes me.  


What is really silly, is that, with the money I am paid for my revolver, I will buy another with a barrel that is one inch longer and which will, therefore, be legal and just as concealable. I am surprised that the one extra inch of barrel is going to make everyone feel better. 


Clearly, I am missing some vital point here. What seems to be happening, is that the Prime Minister is holding every pistol shooter in Australia as responsible for what the Monash University murderer did. This seems to happen every time a firearm related crime is committed even though we have nothing to do with it. It isn’t just, it isn’t logical and it is definitely un-Australian. 


This exercise is going to cost the Australian taxpayer around $120,000,000 and for what? The numbers of pistols won’t be greatly diminished, as most shooters will buy new, legal handguns, and since the pistols being confiscated have never been used for criminal purposes, there will be no discernable benefit to the community as a whole.  


On the other hand, how many lives would be saved by spending this sum in, say, health, or in drug rehabilitation programs, or road safety, or cracking down on criminals? I don’t understand the government’s priorities and I am not alone. 


Multiply me by 100,000 and you now know how licensed pistol shooters in Australia feel. We are angry and bewildered and rightly so, and frankly, everyone should feel the same. The government is deluding the public about community safety, by targetting licensed gun owners, who are doing nothing wrong, simply because they can. They ignore the real problem, that of getting illegal guns out of the hands of criminals, because it is an almost impossible task and they can’t admit that publicly.  


Guests on this program:


Tom Woodley  

Olympic and Commonwealth Games pistol shooter