Facts silenced in suppressor debate

A motion to remove heavy restrictions on the use of suppressors for Victorian recreational hunters has been voted down 36 to 4 in Victoria’s parliament. The Firearms Amendment (Silencers) Bill 2018 failed to gain any support from either Labor, Liberal or National members.

Their use by recreational hunters has positive animal welfare implications and improves pest control efficiency as well as protecting the hearing of hunters and those nearby. Another important aspect of suppressor use is it lowers the chance of causing alarm to non-shooters, especially in areas of mixed use farms and rural residential areas.

The Bill was designed to not be a free-for-all situation where anyone could access suppressors. It was designed to treat suppressors like firearms and require a permit to obtain them and also require safe storage. In short, those already deemed “fit and proper persons” by Victoria police to own a firearm would have the chance to be further assessed and granted a permit as long as they followed the rules.

I, like many, become frustrated when any discussion regarding firearms is not based on evidence and emotional garbage supersedes facts. The sense of disappointment I felt on hearing the pure nonsense being delivered by the media was extreme. Sure, I expected anti-gun groups to say it would be the end of the world if suppressors were more available. I didn’t expect that sound and reasonable regulation for acceptable suppressor use would be rejected outright.

In the final debate of the motion on July 25, Ms Jaclyn Symes, State Labor member for Northern Victoria, admitted her expertise regarding suppressors had only come from watching television. That’s right, a person who is supposed to be representing country people and be across their issues has no other personal understanding on how suppressors are used apart from Hollywood movies. This didn’t surprise me one bit because she wouldn’t be alone. What did surprise me were her references to statements of opposition by the chief executive of the Alannah and Madeline Foundation.

For some reason she thought it was relevant to include an example of why suppressors should not be more available by comparing them to trains. Yes, you read right – trains! Apparently you may not see trains all the time while crossing the tracks but you can hear them. Their sound is a warning signal to keep you safe. Therefore, suppressors are not like trains so they must be bad.

One thing I know about trains is the big diesel ones in particular have muffler systems to prevent hearing damage to drivers, passengers and anyone near them. Some states even have regulations to prevent noisy ones from operating. This may come as a big surprise to Ms Symes and anti-gun fanatics at AMF, but mufflers are in fact a noise suppressor. They’re placed on engines for exactly the same reasons we want them on firearms – to protect our hearing and others from extremely loud noise. Suppressors will lower the noise of most gunshots but will not silence them. Just like suppressed trains there will still be a warning signal to keep you safe.

Edward O’Donohue, Liberal member for Eastern Victoria, spoke on behalf of the Opposition and somehow concluded the current state of play was fine and there was no need to change. Both Ms Symes and Mr O’Donohue made statements that a member of the Victorian Farmers Federation was opposed to recreational hunters having granter access to suppressors based on potential criminal use. The old chestnut that law abiding shooters should not be able to have something because criminals might steal it popped up again. As for the Greens contribution to the debate, I did have trouble following their ramblings. Maybe we should investigate whether it’s possible to obtain suppressors that can somehow be attached to the Greens’ minds and mouths for the benefit of the country.

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