Safety is what’s missing from the Weapons Licensing Branch’s justifications for clamping down on who can have a category H firearms licence, according to grassroots users.
Its main points were that applicants needed to be “primarily engaged in the occupation of primary production”, and that they had to demonstrate their property’s terrain required a concealable firearm for the humane destruction of stock.
“Each (court and tribunal) decision has provided a further clarification of the ‘genuine need’ provisions, the type of business, the type and size of properties, and are consistent with the current decision-making processes of Weapons Licensing,” a branch spokesman said.
A former GABSI project supervisor who was attacked by a boar pig, a buck wallaroo, and a fierce snake while going about his work, said his life was threatened on open downs country.
The first time Anthony McIntosh, based at Longreach from 2000 to 2003, had to use his handgun was when he was engrossed in a tank and trough hook-up.
“A large pig, all of a sudden was right there beside me – in open country – he might have got a fright or something,” he said. “He decided he was going to have a go at me. I had the ute close by, and luckily enough I had a firearm with me.”
The second time was north of Richmond, when he startled a large wallaroo camped on a fenceline not far from a gateway, that reacted with extreme aggression to the intrusion into his personal space.
“I’m over six foot and he was at least as big. He had his chest out and he was trying to have a go at me. He had bigger claws on him than my own hands.
“I managed to get back to the ute. By the time I’d got the gun out he was at the other side of the door.
“I would not have had time to get a rifle. He was big enough to have killed me.”
In the same area around Richmond, Anthony was thankful he was wearing jeans to protect him from mimosa thorns, when he felt a tapping on his leg.
“It was this four foot snake striking but luckily couldn’t get through the jeans,” he said. “I made short work of him because he wasn’t going to stop.”
A fierce snake, or inland Taipan, is the most venomous in the world.
Mr McIntosh has had a category H club licence for many years but surrendered it this year when a back injury forced him into retirement.
He said he carried his pistol whenever he worked alone, for the extra protection it offered, but he also believed it was a necessary replacement for a rifle when on a motorbike in all sorts of terrain.
“You can’t carry a rifle on a motorbike safely,” he said.
“They say, use a scabbard, but the rifle gets knocked about it’s not as accurate at short range.
“The sight’s getting knocked out quite easily, because it’s very rough on a motorbike,
“And, if you have the rifle slung over your shoulder and you come off, you roll and it can cause you more damage.”
Oakey firearms dealer, Col Shields, supported the argument for carrying a pistol when riding a motorbike.
“I’m all for people not having a gun if they have no genuine reason, but carrying a rifle on a motorbike or a horse carries an inherent risk with it,” he said.
Rural users had told him of situations where they’d been forced to retrace their steps after a two hour delay, to put something down humanely, because they couldn’t carry the most applicable firearm for the job.
“If it’s stored and used safely, there’s no reason why people shouldn’t have one,” he said.
Mr Shields, who has been a dealer in Oakey for 15 years, said he often fielded phone calls from people trying to do the right thing to store their guns.
“They’re conscious of door thickness and asking how to bolt their safe down.
“They’re spending the extra dollars to have a better safe.”
He queried the fear that licensed pistols were making their way into the black market, saying no-one had supplied actual numbers to support that.