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National facepalm: Crushing firearms culture contradicts Defence recruitment

Photo: Australian Federal Police

Australian politicians and police are rejoicing a job well done this week after delivering a final stroke of gun-crushing justice and collecting more than 12,000 firearms during the second year of the permanent national firearms amnesty, writes Robert Dougherty.

Australian politicians and police are rejoicing a job well done this week after delivering a final stroke of gun-crushing justice and collecting more than 12,000 firearms during the second year of the permanent national firearms amnesty, writes Robert Dougherty.

The collection of unregistered and unwanted firearms were voluntarily surrendered (without penalty to law enforcement or select licensed firearms dealers) by the public to police since the amnesty began on July 2023.

That haul, now destroyed by the Australian Federal Police, reportedly included fully and semi-automatic firearms, crossbows, tasers, knuckledusters, and a Vietnam War-era flamethrower.

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“Let’s crush a piece of Vietnam War military history,” that sounds like a truly patriotic idea from the Australian government and thoroughly in keeping with the downright abhorrent reception that veterans originally received when they returned from that war in 1972.

A full breakdown of just how many other items such as break-open single-shot air rifles, non-functioning imitation firearms, dilapidated antique shotguns, and ancient collectible military rifles is expected never to see the light of day, in the opaque traditions of national law enforcement.

Attorney-General of Australia Mark Dreyfus said the National Firearms Register is the most significant improvement in Australia’s firearms management systems in almost 30 years.

“Removing these illegal weapons is an important community safety measure that helps reinforce Australia’s world-leading gun safety laws by reducing the overall number of firearms circulating and preventing them from being used by criminals,” he said during a public statement released on 20 March.

“The ongoing success of the amnesty follows national cabinet’s landmark agreement in December to implement a National Firearms Register – delivering on an outstanding reform from the Port Arthur massacre response in 1996.

“The Albanese government is committed to protecting the Australian community and ensuring Australia’s firearms laws remain amongst the most effective in the world.

“I encourage all Australians still in possession of an unregistered or unwanted firearm to take advantage of the amnesty. Full details on how you can surrender unregistered weapons safely, and without penalty, can be found on the Crime Stoppers website.”

It sure sounds like the nation’s criminals concealing illegal firearms will be thoroughly persuaded to hand over their weapons by those sentiments and the amnesty campaign.

I would instead contend that the continued demonisation, restriction, and confiscation of the recreational firearms sports, target shooting, and hunting by the government and police is an active detriment to Australian Defence Force recruiting.

Recreational shooting sports, recreational hunting and target shooting sports not only provide early familiarisation of members of the public with safe and responsible use of firearms, but also act as a bridge to employment or mandatory service in the Defence Force. Indeed, a number of countries (Sweden, Finland, Switzerland) already place a high value on the maintenance of recreational shooting sports as a reminder of traditional ways of life, national defence preparedness, and as an early knowledge base of firearms use for national service.

Switzerland itself has a population around 8.2 million citizens with around 2 million firearms, according to Swiss-based research project The Small Arms Survey.

The famous quote attributed to Japan’s Admiral Yamamoto Isoroku in World War II attested that “You cannot invade mainland United States – there would be a rifle behind each blade of grass.”

Although that quote is now in dispute, the sentiment remains that recreational firearm ownership provides an invaluable militia element and powerful defence option for any nation.

Speaking during a gathering in Indianapolis, Indiana, former Republican presidential candidate and entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy appealed to the same argument in regard to future defence of Taiwan from an invasion by the People’s Republic of China.

“You want China not to invade Taiwan? Here is something we can do: The National Rifle Association can open its branch next time in Taiwan,” Ramaswamy said.

“And you want to stop (Chinese President) Xi Jinping from invading Taiwan, put a gun in every Taiwanese household, have them defend themselves, let’s see what Xi Jinping does then.”

It’s a strategic idea that has already taken hold in the Russian Federation, which is facing increasing demand for defence personnel to use in Ukraine.

Former Deputy Minister of Transport and current president of JSC Kalashnikov Concern, Alan Lushnikov, speaking to Russian Military Commissariats in February, said there is a need to re-introduce shooting training in schools, the importance of patriotic education and the ability to handle weapons, as well as training in responsible weapon ownership.

“The agenda about the increased danger of weapons is constantly being circulated; that weapons kill. At the same time, the emphasis was deliberately shifted from the person using the weapon to the object – to small arms,” he said (translated).

“What’s the result? The collapse of pre-conscription shooting training (and) degradation of shooting infrastructure. Today, a school shooting range is perceived as something unimaginable. Although once upon a time in our schools we learned to shoot air rifles and disassemble a Kalashnikov (military rifle).

“Take a look at our opponents today – they are actively preparing their population to defend themselves with weapons in their hands. We see this in almost all NATO countries. Poland, for example, has introduced mandatory shooting training. It’s a long way to go, basic military training is now carried out in all commonwealth of independent states countries except Russia.

“In the USSR, small arms were as common as a plow in the hands of a peasant. Small arms were everywhere. Shooting training was enshrined in the course of basic military training.

“With every new ban on the use of civilian weapons, we unwittingly damage our defence capability. The fact is that modern small arms used by security forces must be as trouble-free, powerful and reliable as possible.

“All this is achieved through the mutual transfer of technical solutions for civilian, service and military weapons. These are the support legs on which the domestic weapons school rests. Throw away or shorten one of them, and the whole structure will first begin to wobble and then topple over.

“Ultimately, we all must come to the understanding that a person with a weapon is not a threat, but a defender of the Motherland (Russia).

“Today’s average conscript has no idea about the basics of shooting. He does not know or understand either ballistics, or the basic design of small arms, or the basic safety requirements when handling them.

“You need to start somewhere. You need to understand what small arms are. These are cartridges, these are ballistics, these are special solutions that help to use it. If you begin to develop these skills in handling weapons, then working with more complex types will become easier.”

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