Shooters: victims of factional politics?

Where is this anti-firearm push coming from? The real answer could be more complex and political than you think. 

There is government, and there is bureaucracy – both play a role. Often they work together. If you generalise, you say government makes laws (the acts), while bureaucracy makes the rules (the regulations), but it’s never as clear-cut as that.

It’s even more blurry when the politicians come from the bureaucracy, as is the case with NSW Police Minister Mike Gallacher, who was a long-serving policeman before entering politics.

We’ll look at NSW since it’s in the news right now and, frankly, I have access to a little more knowledge because of that.

I think we can safely take it that there is an anti-gun attitude in the hierarchy of the NSW police. It may not be universal, but it comes out in everything the force does: punishing ranges because vandals have damaged their security; imposing stricter limits on calibres that can be used at ranges; coming up with the recent ammunition control bill; coming up with the proposed new regulations we’ve been covering on this website.

Yes, those things did come out of the police department, but you’d be naïve to believe the police ministry wasn’t also implicit in them. Gallacher championed the infamous ammo bill (which was so poorly constructed the state still can’t put it into force, but that’s another story). Gallacher’s involvement marks where shooters may be the victims of party political wrangling. A theory has been put forward, and it goes something like this:

Premier Barry O’Farrell is being hammered internally by the far right wing of the Liberal Party, which went as far as taking the party to court the other day over preselection. The far right won, but that’s by the by. Police Minister Gallagher is part of that right wing, and the right has never been happy since O’Farrell pulled them and the rest of the party into line as they gained power at the last election.

Meanwhile, O’Farrell needs the support of the two Shooters and Fishers Party MLCs to maintain power in the upper house. If Gallacher’s anti-gun agenda means the SFP members refuse to cooperate with the Libs, it’ll reflect directly on O’Farrell. The Libs might look like losers, but in the rebuilding that comes later, the right wing faction can stand up and look strong. It’ll be able to say, for example, that it fought gun crime and forced tougher gun laws on those rednecks from the SFP.

The right faction needs to make this happen quickly, so they can take power of the Liberal Party and get it on track before the next election. And by then, the SFP will be on the nose with many voters for apparently being so stubborn as to have derailed O’Farrell and caused all that grief – and so maybe Gallacher and his fellow right wingers will also see the back of this thorn in their political sides.

And here we were thinking this might be about misplaced views of what’s good for public safety.

That’s the theory, and it’s a good one. Whether it’s correct or not, it does play along with the rules of the political game and, as such, it makes it apparent that our votes – as shooters, hunters, outdoors enthusiasts and all – are vital.




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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.


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