A retired north coast police officer has become so alarmed at the prospect of shooting in national parks that he has written to Echonetdaily to add his weight to the already significant body of concern around the state government’s new legislation.
He writes that in his experience ‘some gun holders are unstable – attributed to either alcohol or simply from life stresses’ and that in ‘the very remote area of a national park… they feel almost invisible to policing’.
So concerned is the officer for his safety and that of his family that he has asked to remain anonymous for fear that more extreme elements in the gun lobby may seek him out.
After careful consideration, we have decided to publish his concerns, as they reflect what many of our readers are feeling about the prospect and we have absolute confidence in his bona fides.
The fact that a former police officer has such concerns in itself speaks volumes about the nature and extent of the government’s new legislation.
What follows are his own words on the subject, edited only slightly for clarity.
‘Can you just imagine! You take your wife and kids and perhaps your grandchildren out for the day into our beautiful national parks for a picnic or even an overnight stay in a camping ground. You then hear gunshots nearby, perhaps even the whistle of bullets passing near. You begin to shake with fear, you are isolated away in a national park; you feel helpless. “Am I going to die? Is my family going to die?” you ask yourself. Still fresh in your mind are the horrors of the Port Arthur massacre, the Belanglo State Forest backpacker murders and the murders of innocent tourists in our beautiful Australian outback – all attributed to crazed gunmen.
‘You see a man standing in the distance with rifle in hand – a most threatening sight. He may be a licensed hunter but you don’t know that. “Is he going to harm us?” It would not be prudent to assume all is okay and it would be innocently foolish to confront an unknown person holding a rifle in a remote national park just to say “G’day” and find out what he is up to.
‘In this scenario police, if called, would approach a man in a remote area with a rifle in hand with extreme caution, not knowing who he is or what his intentions are.
‘Historically, our beautiful national parks are renowned safe havens for families and tourists to enjoy. People should not have to now fear going into these parks. On a platter, we are providing a playground within our national parks for gun holders to shoot amongst the gum trees where every day families will be enjoying their family day out and camping trip.
‘Most gun licence holders and shooters in Australia are responsible citizens in our society but sadly we don’t live in a perfect world. Some gun owners are reckless and irresponsible and some gun owners are unstable – attributed to either alcohol or simply from life stresses. The very remote area of a national park where many families and tourists visit daily provides a most favourable environment for irresponsible, reckless and unstable gun holders to “shoot their wares” where they feel almost invisible to policing. Simply, shooting guns in a national park where people frequent is dangerous. Allocating zones for shooters in the parks is no guarantee that visitors to them will not fall victim to such an incident.
‘Another shooting horror story waiting to happen in our beautiful Australia? I so hope not.’