A well-placed source has advised me that there are moves afoot to ban straight pull firearms by ‘bracket creep’.
I am not naming my source.
I would however describe the quality of the source and thus information as A Grade, as the source does not deal in the typical shooter gossip that one often hears around ranges.
I have however been told that the reason is that they can be converted to semi -automatic operation.
There would appear to be no sensible statistical ‘business case’ for the move, particularly given a long-term pattern of falling firearms crime rates, and absence of such conversions manifesting in criminal activity.
There would therefore appear to be one of two agendas apparent:
- There is intense paranoia within Registries, for example, at the NSW Firearms Registry, in light of a possible finding of the Coroner in respect to the Edwards matter, coupled with an adverse Auditor-General report, with the result that they often see unicorns when they should be seeing horses, because of an intense fear of media over reaction to an event.
- There may be an unstated political agenda at work. The agenda may exist at one of a number of levels, and arise from either, party politics, Senior Police or else well-placed bureaucrats who may be have a personal interest in ‘gun control’ that is over and above their duty as a Public Servant to apply the Firearms Act 1996 without fear or favour.
I am not aware of the source agency regarding the above.
The bureaucrats are clearly under the false impression that straight pull firearms are an evolution of semi-automatics, however this is false logic. Some are, such as a straight pull version of the Mini 14 produced for the European market or the Australian Warwick WFA1, that was knocked off on ‘appearance’ grounds.
Most however evolved from Ferdinand Mannlicher’s attempt at improving upon the Mauser design by removing the need to cycle a bolt like a door bolt, first in a vertical plain and then in a horizontal one, and instead just move it along a horizontal plain.
Examples of this are the Steyr 1895, Blaser R93, R8 and K31 Swiss, Ross, K31, Heym SR30, Strasser, Merkel Helix, the Browning Maral and others.
It is true, semi-automatic firearms evolved at a similar time, and some of the same players were involved for example Ferdinand Mannlicher was for example involved in the Model 85, 91, 93 and 95 Mannlicher.
However, the gas system was independently developed by a Mexican General, and blow back .22’s by Winchester and Remington in the early years of the last century.
Since then, there has been some limited cross over in technology.
To describe a straight pull as being easily converted to a semi-automatic or fully automatic is quite wrong. This cannot be discussed generically because of a considerable variation between different models. For example, the Steyr 1895 for example is fed by stripper clips inserted from above into a blind magazine, whereas the Ruger Mini 14 straight pull which has NEVER been available in this market is clearly a derivation of a semi-automatic firearm.
Countries in Europe that have allowed straight pull versions of firearms like the Ruger Mini 14 have never had any problems with their use. They are readily available in France, yet the gun of choice on the Marseilles docks is, the French Police told me five years ago, the Bulgarian Kalashnikov.
I note customs many years ago stopped the import of a shipment of Kalashnikov rifles that had been converted to pump action for sale in Australia with shortened magazines on the basis that they could simply be retro fitted with an easily imported gas system.
This is NOT the case with most straight pull firearms imported in Australia.
Having said the above, during WW2 NZ produced a Charlton Pattern conversion of Lee Metford rifles to semi-automatic form, and I once recall seeing in an American shooting magazine, an article on a conversion of a Winchester 94 .30-30 to semi-automatic form, and it utilised a drum magazine.
In both cases, there was not much left of the original firearm other than parts of the stock, receiver and barrel, and the source firearm was largely unrecognisable apart from its sights and butt stock.
From a regulatory perspective, consideration of this type of conversion is fanciful. To produce such a firearm, one would need to have something that many do not like to recognise in egalitarian modern Australia – ability. Only a skilled and very talented gunsmith and designer could do the work, and given the amount of retro fitting that would be required it would be easier to start from scratch.
One can for example download instruction manuals for manufacturing sub machine guns from Amazon, and to my knowledge, the sale of CMC machines is unregulated in Australia, and no enquiries are made to ascertain if they are being purchased by anyone with problematic associations.
Why not? Because the issue has not arisen, and the regulators have either been too preoccupied with zero-risk minutiae for the sake of justifying their existence to realise the risk, or else have ‘risk managed’ and decided that they are not worth monitoring.
I suspect the latter is the case, as it would, after all, have been far easier to do what criminals currently do, and import illicit arms that they want in shipments along with drugs in the 99% of containers that pass through our container depots each day unchecked.
The latter is of course a Federal problem, however, until the Federal Government can clean up their act with inspections, the
chances of controlling illicit imports is zero to none, with the result that current state Police activities amount to a waste of resources better spent on other matters, given Police claims of a shortage of officers. Indeed, some of their current activities targeting good people could be accurately described as a form of harassment.
To me, given the small number of straight pull firearms in Australia, this measure, should it eventuate, is really a back-hand way of developing a precedent that they can use to attack sporting pump action rifles down the track. So those of you who replaced your ‘Woodies’ in 1996 with a pump action, do not think this does not involve you, so you fail to be involved.
The bureaucracy needs to stop persecuting shooters for no rational reason, and the Politicians need to understand that in 1996 they achieved the NFA that gave them what they believed to be sensible gun laws – although most of us would dispute that on raw crime statistics, and there has been no review into the efficiency and effectiveness of the laws to give any real further assessment.
In his obituary to Tim Fischer, John Barillaro described the gun laws as Tim Fischer’s ‘greatest achievement’. I am still trying to work out whether he intended it in ironic terms or not. Given the context however, I assume the negative. What he needs to understand however is that every time Murwillumbah drive an initiative that unnecessarily attacks shooters it effects National Party votes.
As I once told the Hon John, ‘Tim Fischer unleashed a Cancer that is eating his party alive’.
National Firearms Lawyer
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Simon Munslow is a lawyer who has a lifelong interest in shooting, having acquired his first firearm at the age of nine, and has had an active interest in firearms law since writing a thesis on the topic over thirty years ago at University.
Simon Munslow practices extensively in Firearms Law matters throughout Australia.
He is a regular contributor to the Australian Sporting Shooter magazine’s website on Firearms law matters, has published articles on firearms reviews and firearms law, and occasionally is asked to comment in the broader media on firearms matters.
This article is written for general information only and does not constitute advice.
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