The dangers of producing legislation on whim, without adequate stakeholder scrutiny are clear to us all, but not apparently to the NSW Government. You see, we have a problem in NSW, where, every time the Telegraph writes about something, the Premier’s knee twitches, and another piece of ill-considered legislation that has been passed without due consideration and scrutiny is born.
I am acting for a shooter who had a grenade casing found during a safety inspection. He was initially charged with an Explosives offence- and clearly this does not apply, as there was no explosive, or explosive precursor in the case.
He has now been charged with a Weapons Prohibition Act offence the relevant section being:
(1) Any bomb, grenade, rocket, missile or mine or other similar device (such as a tear-gas canister) that is in the nature of, or that expels or contains, an explosive, incendiary, irritant, gas or smoke, andwhether or not it is live, has been deactivated or is spent.
For the purposes of this subclause,
“bomb”includes a device known as an Improvised Explosive Device (or IED).
(2) Any device intended for use by a military or defence force and that is designed to propel or launch a weapon referred to in subclause (1).
(3) A flame thrower that is of military design or any other device that is capable of projecting ignited incendiary fuel.
(1) Any object that substantially duplicates in appearance a weapon referred to inclause1A (1), but not including an object that is produced and identified as a children’s toy.
Let’s consider the case in point:
Police attended to seize firearms for unrelated reasons and ‘discovered’ a grenade shell casing. Grenade casings were until relatively recent times often sold at disposal shops in Australia.
When I was a boy, de-activated grenades were everywhere, and I used to play soldiers, throwing deactivated mill’s bombs and German stick grenades.
It was good clean, safe exercise, we knew not to throw them at one another because they could do serious injury if one hit you with force, and if one dropped one on a toe whilst wearing thongs, bad bruising or bone breakage could result.
That was the sum total of the risk associated by their possession.
More recently, I have practiced law in Jerrabomberra, which is something of a Defence Service Homes ghetto near Canberra. Soldiers in a pre-deployment phase are instructed to prepare wills, and often when visiting homes, I have seen similar grenade casings functioning as paper weights, or mounted as memorabilia of service on a stand with plaque.
Also caught, as the definition includes ‘expels’ or contains explosive’ would be a shell casing parked by grandpa’s front door and used by him as an umbrella stand, or the hapless relative who inherited it and has retained it to remember him by.
You can also add to those ‘guilty’ of offences under this artless expression of political ignorance the many thousands of good, harmless people who collect Trench Art made of deactivated weapons.
Also caught are those who have purchased one of the deactivated .50 Cal Browning casing (or look alike) bottle openers.
What the government has done, is to criminalise being normal.
But then they have a history of that don’t they? Remember gun laws that created a situation where we are now treated as criminals in waiting.
It is probably good that the net of politically correct persecution has broadened, because the more people who realise what this type of legislation does to the lives of good people who are charged with offences, the more politicians shall be forced to answer for the consequences at the ballot box.
What the Government has done is perform an act of legislative alchemy, by transforming a piece of old metal into a time bomb for its owner; politicians need to know that bombs have an interesting consequence, and it is often called collateral damage.
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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