Keeping Australia safe from cat toys

The other day, I bought two little laser pointers on eBay, for a grand total of $US3.76 delivered.

I intended to use them as cat toys, since the only red pointer we've got here that doesn't run from those useless button batteries is a bit flaky.

I chose those particular pointers because they were the very cheapest AAA-powered lasers I could find. They were promoted as "Ultra Powerful Red Laser Pointer Pen Beam Light 5mW", but they almost certainly actually had an output of only one or two milliwatts, like almost every other cheap pointer.

This power level presents pretty much zero eye risk, according to the rather complex risk calculations I explained at great length in my review of a much more powerful pointer.

A genuine five-milliwatt laser certainly can damage your retina if you stare into it from close range, and it's theoretically possible for glance exposure to cause eye damage at ten to maybe twenty metres, given the beam characteristics of cheap lasers.

A cheap two-milliwatt laser can't possibly hurt your eyes if you're more than ten metres away - probably closer, actually - and the one-milliwatt output you'll get from the very cheapest lasers and from those ubiquitous button-cell keyring lasers when the batteries have more than a few minutes of use on them will probably not hurt you even if you do stare into them at zero range.

Not that you should do it just to see, but the hazard calculations start looking pretty stupid as you drop below 5mW.

Australian Customs seizure notice

Naturally, Australian Customs chose to protect the Australian people from these terrifying devices, by seizing them under subsection 203B(2) of the Customs Act.

(This only the second time this has happened to me. The other time was when Ron Toms tried to send me an inexpensive Airsoft gun along with a box of other toys for review. The Customs guys left me the instruction manual, battery and charger, so I presume they really did incinerate the gun itself.)

Should I wish to contest the seizure, it would appear my first step would be to obtain Form B709B from the Firearms Registry of the New South Wales Police, which I could of course not actually do, after which I would be able to lodge a "B710 Application to the Minister for Permission to Import Weapons", which he would of course not grant.

At least I didn't have to go to bloody Clyde to pick up the package, as I've had to a couple of previous times when Customs were doubtful about something I'd bought.

(The second of those times, the item in question was a Gerber multitool. The nice Customs lady went into the back room to make sure it wasn't actually a switchblade or something. Her experience with tools in general may have been somewhat limited, since she came back bleeding. But she was very good-humoured about it, especially after I gave her one of the Band-Aids I keep in my wallet where less practical, or perhaps just more interesting, people keep a condom.)

This foolishness happened, of course, because a couple of geniuses shone green lasers at planes coming in to land here in New South Wales. And, immediately, our sagacious elected protectors made new laws which caused ordinary laser pointers - including low-powered red ones that have almost no ability to dazzle anyone more than a stone's throw away - to be classed as weapons.

Now, anything with output above one milliwatt is a prohibited import.

Actually, in New South Wales and elsewhere, it would appear that all lasers above one milliwatt output are now Controlled and/or Prohibited Weapons, like military flame throwers and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The maximum penalty for merely possessing a perfectly normal office laser pointer would, therefore, now appear to be fourteen years in prison.

I'd like to say that I'm sure that a judge would recognise that the assortment of silly ninja weapons and quite inoffensive items - like ordinary handcuffs, for instance, or even a home-made cardboard replica of a Sidewinder missile - that one or another drum-beating politician has added to the list of prohibited weapons, are not the same as an actual working RPG-7. And that of all the ridiculous things on the list, a $2, 2mW, laser pointer may be the most ridiculous.

But you shouldn't be up in front of a judge over just owning a 2mW laser pointer anyway. And, given the way things have been going lately, I don't know how much sanity is left in the system.

You'd think that even the docile beta apes who can be counted on to support frank fascism when presented with the simple stimuli so famously explained by Hermann Goering would, by now, have started to realise that just this once, for the very first time in human history, they are being lied to.

But no. Not so much.

Hating everyone and everything that's slightly different from you still seems to play pretty damn well out in the sticks where they marry their cousins and have sex with the cows. By which I mean, a one hour drive from the Sydney Opera House.

We still do not seem to have reached the point where any electable candidate for public office in Australia - or, of course, in the USA - will come within a hundred miles of saying that making little old ladies take their shoes off is not an essential measure to prevent conquest of the world by radical Islam.

Oh, and do note that while 2mW laser pointers are now super-illegal death rays here in New South Wales - instantly making felons of, what do you reckon, maybe a third of the population? - laser diodes with the same or more power which happen to be part of ultrasonic tape-measures, laser levels, Blu-Ray players, barcode scanners or any of approximately one billion other classes of device are all still perfectly legal, and expected to stay that way. Because we all know that terrorists do not own screwdrivers, or know how to find Instructables.com.

I remind you, at this juncture, that Wicked Lasers and their spin-off TechLasers continue to offer a 100% delivery guarantee for lasers the size of a billy-club that cost a thousand dollars and have at least a few hundred times the output power of the ones Customs seized from me.

Techlasers have a "100% Money Back Guarantee if for ANY reason your product cannot be delivered to your door, no questions asked", while Wicked Lasers will give you your money back plus a hundred dollars if a laser doesn't make it to you.

So I think it's safe to say that Australian Customs isn't perfectly watertight as regards even lasers with which you could beat a man to death.

But they sure confiscated the hell out of those cat toys of mine. Well done, lads!

The only even slightly rational justification for the new laws is that it's now possible for police to confiscate a laser from you if you cannot give a good reason for having it on your person. So the cops don't have to prove that this particular dork they just caught is the same one who was shining a laser at an air ambulance an hour ago, and can at least take his laser away even if they can't charge him with anything.

(Although the 1mW legal limit seems to mean they can charge you with a serious offence just for owning almost any laser pointer. Does anybody know whether this has actually been done yet?)

But even if you feel that this particular security-versus-freedom trade-off is a fair one, it doesn't justify stopping everybody else from even buying a plain old $2 cat-toy laser.

I, for the record, do not believe this to be a fair trade-off. There are similar laws here in New South Wales covering knives; if you cannot give a good reason for having even a tiny Swiss Army knife in your pocket if challenged by a policeman, he can confiscate it. But it is easy to justify having any normal sort of pocket-knife, and I do not strongly object to confiscation of a steak knife from some goon wandering around outside the cinemas on George Street in Sydney on a Saturday night, whether or not he's actually suspected of doing or intending to do something bad with it.

I don't think the knife laws have actually achieved a damn thing, but I also don't think they're a great assault upon our freedom, since all they really do is increase the number of ways a policeman can make your life miserable, if he chooses, from a million to a million and one.

The NSW laser ban, in contrast, is an excellent example of the new wave of arbitrary, fear-based laws to Protect the People from the Movie-Plot Tactics of the Scary Domestic Terrorists who Don't Actually Exist.

The practical results of the ban, despite the outrageous classification of harmless tiny lasers as being like flamethrowers, appear to be mundane and minor; nobody's being hauled off to be tortured in Syria over possession of Laser-Guided Scissors.

But I think the mundanity of the ban is what makes it a particularly good example of the Death by a Thousand (Laser-Guided Scissor!) Cuts that's being suffered by the civil liberties of citizens of Western nations.

One little thing after another's being taken away, none of them a big deal by themselves. Day by day, it further restricts the kind of life that's legally permissible, and makes us more and more accustomed to living in this slowly-tightening straitjacket. The idea is to make us all keep our heads down and do anything and everything we're told, lest we slightly annoy a policeman and then actually be charged with some of the new and ridiculous "crimes" which we cannot avoid committing.

54 Responses to “Keeping Australia safe from cat toys”

  1. unclerichy Says:

    At least your comedic laws are vaguely exciting (weapons? woo!). Over here in the UK 'lasers' aren't frowned upon whilst taking innocent photographs in public will have you branded as a) paedophile, b) pervert, c) terrorist or d) all of the above and then lynched. Feel like an exchange?

  2. Falk Says:

    Trouble is that fear sells so well -- people will practically beat a path to your door to find out what they should fear today, and will then make content noises at you when you say "space rays/LHC/drugs/the international Jewish plot, but never fear, I, and only I, can protect you", cf. vaccines and Autism, equality for homosexuals, et cetera, ad nauseum.

    It is at once an entertaining and chilling insight into people who think with their spinal cord, that some people are demanding to be deprived of rights paid for in blood. Admittedly the blood was shed around 1215, but still.

    Oh well. Here's to the libertarian megacorps eclipsing the power of government.

  3. Mael Says:

    The real problem is that it's so very difficult to buy cheap lasers that are 1mW or less. No one seems to sell them online as they're just too weak.
    Buying 20 5mW lasers for about $2 each online on the other hand is relatively easy.

  4. jani Says:

    well, i've flown into sydney on nights where the idiots with laser pointers are out, and while my aircraft hasn't been hit, it isn't a pleasant thing. I don't think that your basic cat toy lasers present a threat but the paper pushers that make the laws can't tell the difference between toys and something that can cause problems for flight crews. So, no,... sorry, no sympathy from me on this one.

  5. Daniel Rutter Says:

    (Backstory: Jani is someone I know in real life. Well, unless it's some other pilot-Jani who posted that comment.)

    Don't you have a motorcycle, Jani?

    A fast one?

    They're dangerous, man. Nobody NEEDS a fast motorcycle. Terrorists could use them to escape from the scene of an attack, in a very cool movie-plot sort of way.

    And motorcycles kill people every day - riders, and innocent victims. Dickheads shining laser pointers at planes haven't yet, as far as I know, managed to kill anybody at all.

    So the answer is clear: Based on your expressed argument, in which it's OK to punish people who merely possess an entertaining device with which they could, if they wished, do something foolish and dangerous, you clearly would have no problem whatsoever with the confiscation of all motorcycles with a top speed higher than, let's say 75 kilometres an hour.

    (Oh, wait a minute - as you say, the paper-pushers can't tell the difference. So I guess there's nothing for it but confiscation of all motorised two-wheeled vehicles.)

    Please now explain why you are not running out to set fire to your bike out of a sense of public duty. Or, preferably, just apologise for your brief fascist brain fart.

  6. jani Says:

    Well, yeah, good point. I don't have my motorcycle anymore though. I'll replace 'motorcycle' with 'car' and your argument is just as valid. Calling anything over 1mW 'high-power' and therefore a weapon is unreasonable, but I also find it hard to conceive of a situation where a normal person might have a need of a 300mW+ laser in day to day tasks. If that laser is really required, then I'm sure the appropriate agencies will issue the appropriate permits after the appropriate application is made.

    The whole banning all lasers above 1mW from import thing is not necessarily the best way to control the problem, but not all of the idiots willing to try to cause mayhem are as helpful to the cops as these guys: http://www.livenews.com.au/Articles/2008/04/22/Police_chopper_targeted_in_laser_attack http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/06/12/1949316.htm http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/police-helicopter-zapped/2008/06/19/1213770768249.html

    While I am not aware of any aircraft being brought down by a laser pointer, I am aware of of two occasions where pilots were not able to continue flying the aircraft visually and had to go-around or hand over to the copilot for landing. Yes, at low level over densely populated urban areas for those wanting to sensationalize the whole thing. Oh, and yes it took a number of days before the pilots involved were medically cleared to fly again. That does not fit my definition of a 'terrorist attack', but it certainly does fit my definition of 'flagrant and criminal disregard for other members of society.'

  7. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Well, sure. But the point isn't that people loitering around the airport with a 500mW laser can have it taken away from them; that's reasonable enough, given that there does seem to be something of a fad at the moment for being a tool with the new wave of very cheap green lasers.

    (Note 1, though: This entire scare could be the result of about six people per city in which it's occurring. And, note 2: I'm far from convinced that being caught in the above holding-a-laser-while-standing-under-the-approach-path situation wouldn't have seen you down the police station, at the very least, without the new grandstanding laws. These sorts of legal headline-grabs are, after all, famous for just taking stuff that was illegal already and making it "more" illegal. Look at all the Protectors of the Children who expect us to believe that they're the ones that finally made kiddy porn illegal, for instance. Just because the precise instrument of mayhem you happen to be carrying is not clearly described in existing legislation does not mean that the cops are required to leave you and your HERF gun alone as you wait for the air-ambulance to pass.)

    The problem, I repeat, is that JUST OWNING such a laser, because you happen to enjoy popping balloons, lighting matches and shooting the occasional cockroach off the wall with it, is now (by the letter of the law) an imprisonable offence!

    If someone's casually walking down the street with a sword over his shoulder, he may be called upon to explain himself, according to long-established and perfectly sensible laws. If he's hanging that sword on his living-room wall, though, he should be left alone. Stopping laser dickheadery by banning lasers is like stopping drunk driving by banning alcohol. (Which, by the way, some people clearly actually want to do.)

    And, in case you're all wondering, I also think kids should be able to go to a hobby shop and buy a model aeroplane kit, some glue and an X-Acto knife. This is not possible at the moment here in NSW, because of the spate of kids buying X-Acto knives along with protective-colouration hobby goods who then ran outside and plunged the blade into another child.

    Oh, wait - there was no such spate. Australian youth violence, like youth violence across the developed world, is actually slowly falling all by itself, even as computer games become more and more realistically violent.

    But people under 18 in NSW still aren't allowed to buy knives any more. And, furthermore, if you buy your 14-year-old child a Swiss Army knife for his or her birthday, and they have it in their pocket in a public place, and they are unable to provide a reasonable justification for its presence to a large and frightening policeman, both your child and you may then find yourselves quite significantly busted.

    That, if you ask me, is not the sort of thing that should happen in a free country. A Bic pen is a better street-fight weapon than a non-locking pen-knife, but to Protect the Children, we're apparently determined to prevent them from being given any responsibility at all. And then the same people who insisted children be cocooned in bubble-wrap until the age of 18 complain about how young adults these days don't seem to have the slightest idea how to cope with life, and just lie around playing video games and sponging off their parents.

    If nothing else, it is famously impossible to legislate morality.

    Some people are dickheads. Even if you don't care at all about civil liberties, it's still impossible to prevent people from being dickheads by making illegal things that can be used for dickheadery, because just about anything can be so used. And you should be concerned every single time yet another stupid bloody law like this gets passed, if only because you or your loved ones could easily end up being one of the innocent citizens who, quietly and without any mention at all on the front pages, next gets themselves a criminal record for doing something harmless that was perfectly legal the last time you looked. Forget "chilling effects"; how about getting your door kicked in and every electronic device in the house carted away for forensic examination because a government-run P2P honeypot noticed your kid was running LimeWire?

    Deploying little band-aid laws like the laser one is, at best, a waste of time and money, throwing away the freedoms of the law-abiding (well, they were law-abiding until you criminalised something harmless, that is) without doing a damn thing to make society at large any safer. Yes, this sort of law may be able to stop a few individuals from engaging in one particular obnoxious act, but even if their IQ is down around room temperature they, or others from the endlessly renewable resource of dickheads, will still be able to figure out about a dozen equally or more obnoxious things to do next weekend.

    "Duuuh... oil SLIPPERY! Buy oil, go to tight corner, pour oil on road!"

    ("In a move to stem the new spate of terrorist corner attacks, purchasers of more than one litre of motor or vegetable oil are now required to submit their names and addresses to a Federal register. Persons found in possession of more than twenty litres of oil who are unable to provide evidence that they are operating a legitimate motor repair or catering business will be subject to fines and possible imprisonment. Precise audit records must be kept for all oil. In other news, the Australian MG Owners' Club today committed mass suicide...")

  8. frasera Says:

    the hysteria is unwarranted.
    http://www.reason.com/news/show/28582.html
    not about knives, but it shows how silly such bans/restrictions are.
    weapons are a fact of life. a broken bottle can be used to kill. a barbell, a stone...its still done in the middle east after all. go down to the hardware store and just look around. basically every other thing could be used to kill someone:P any pointy or heavy object will do.

  9. Coderer Says:

    @Dan: I think the (most relevant) difference between the high powered laser pointer and the motorcycle/car is that you can hurt somebody quite badly with the laser pointer from a very long distance away, whereas the car/motorcycle has to actually *hit them*, and can't be concealed in a pocket -- and is required to have a serial-numbered tag on it that's visible to any passersby.

    I agree that Class 1 and 2 lasers should be unrestricted, but anything that can blind somebody before they know what hit them (which I'm sure would include your balloon-burster) should probably at least require a license or some kind of registration, so they know whose door to come knocking on when people start turning up with seared retinas. I agree, though, that much of this can be accomplished through (at-the-time) existing law.

    Imagine for a moment that somebody came up with a device the size of a 9-volt battery that generated a sound loud enough to burst the eardrums of anybody standing in a 30-meter line in front of it. It might have "neat" recreational uses, but I for one would want to make sure nobody turned one against me. And unlike your hypothetical sword-wielder, it's not something you can catch by just paying attention -- that's the main concern here.

    Put another way: there's probably an existing law that lets the police haul in somebody standing around an airfield with a laser... but if the laser is in their pocket next to three identical-looking pens, how will the cops know the difference until they take it out and blind somebody with it? Read some of the comments on that Slashdot article, too.

    I'm usually the first to get onboard when somebody is complaining about over-regulation -- c.f. your preposterous Airsoft, knife, and gun laws -- but I think there absolutely is *some* point at which lasers need to be regulated, even if I disagree with where that line is drawn now.

  10. Alex Whiteside Says:

    The elegant solution would be to take a leaf out of the Mark Thomas book, and bombard the police with countless (anonymous) reports of people in office blocks carrying illegal (laser) weapons. That they turn out to be 1mW laser pointers is hardly your problem, as the law is absolutely unambiguous on the issue. Alas I have neither the balls, competence, nor the geographic proximity required to execute such a scheme.

  11. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Coderer:
    As frasera pointed out above, there are many things in the world already that can gravely injure someone a significant distance away from an attacker.

    Like, for instance, rocks.

    Heck, what's the big deal about long-range attacks anyway? Anybody can pick up a brick and sit in a doorway somewhere waiting for someone to pass by when nobody else is around, then cave in the innocent victim's head and scarper, with a 99.9% chance of getting away with it.

    Should we, therefore, install security cameras absolutely bloody everywhere and hire 5% of the population to watch them for such acts?

    If there's a sudden outbreak of lunatics running around with bricks smashing skulls, or with lasers blinding people, then perhaps it's justified to enact Draconian laws against lasers. Or bricks.

    But there is no such problem. And, I feel quite safe in saying, we don't need new laws to stop it from happening.

    People, in general, behave themselves around other people. Otherwise the whole civilised world wouldn't contain restaurants that let you just leave... something... in that little black folder and walk out smiling at the staff.

    There is no reason to assume that we need to take drastic measures to control random psychotic violence - especially extremely tightly defined kinds of random psychotic violence - when almost nobody ever bloody does it.

    As far as the "damage retinas" type of "hurt someone quite badly" goes, I (and many others) have previously established that a hefty 300mW green laser for a standard 0.15-second glance time has an outside, atmospheric-diffusion-ignored, unusually-tight-beam-assumed danger distance of a bit more than 160 metres.

    Realistically it's more likely to be little more than a hundred metres, but that's still a decent distance if you're determined to damage the eyes of someone, anyone, in a crowd. And it's also a serious risk for everyday mucking about at home; as I mentioned in the Nexus review, you should buy an absolute bare minimum of one pair of safety goggles with your high-powered laser.

    But in the situations we're talking about here - shining lasers at aircraft, or even at cars from the side of the road - a 0.15-second NOHD distance that's considerably larger than 163 metres is not a danger at all.

    It's functionally impossible to manage a 0.15-second exposure on someone in a plane coming in for a landing, or even in a car, if you've only got a handheld laser. If you stood there all week then you might perhaps manage it by a sheer fluke, but I suspect someone might have caught you at it by then. You'd need some kind of serious stabilised tracking rig to actually achieve it - and if you're buying one of those, you'd do better to buy a simple tripod and a 50-watt IR laser instead. Or, for fuck's sake, just a rifle.

    Realistically, a hundredth of a second is more plausible for shooting at planes, even if you ignore the large percentage of your laser light that'll bounce off the dust in the air and the cockpit glass. And then you find that even if you've got the biggest handheld laser yet offered to the consumer market, you can't hurt a retina that's further than 200 metres away. More likely, taking real-world factors into account, 100 metres. If you're a hundred metres away from a landing plane at an angle that can shoot into the cockpit, you're probably busy flying your own plane at the time.

    (Note, by the way, that 15 0.01-second exposures in quick succession are very much NOT the same as one 0.15-second exposure, on account of the heat-sinking properties of the eye. You have to hold the beam on the target to cause damage, and that's incredibly difficult with targets the size of eyes and handheld lasers, even if your target's only on the other side of the living room.)

    If, by "hurt someone quite badly", you mean "cause an aircraft to crash", I remind you that this does not yet actually seem to have been achieved, and would be quite difficult to pull off at all. A bright light that ruins someone's night vision and makes them pull up, throttle up and apologise to ATC as they go around and curse is not something that takes them outside the normal safety envelope for passenger aircraft.

    Doing this to aircraft pilots is still obviously grounds for prosecution. But it's not grounds for prosecution of people who haven't bloody well done it.

  12. Darien Says:

    You're completely right, Dan; these ridiculous babysitting laws are totally out of control. I'm in the USA, and in a few months I'll be getting on an airplane for the first time in about sixteen years. Airport security, of course, is justly infamous for its absurd restrictions. I'm told, for example, that I can't take any liquids or gels in carry-on unless the containers are smaller than 3oz each and they all fit in a Zip-lock freezer bag.

    I... what? What possible, conceivable sense does that restriction make? I'm pretty sure that any dangerous liquids are still dangerous even if they're split up in a zillion tiny jars and Zip-locked.

    For further fun on the subject, check out this article about a dude trying to enter Yankee Stadium and being told that he can't bring his bag with him; notice how they make him empty the entire contents of his bag into another, different bag and then allow him in.

  13. NickL Says:

    Meanwhile, I recently filed paperwork to buy a fully-automatic FN FNC here in the US. :-) The paperwork is brutal, there are restrictions many places, and a $200USD tax - but private citizens can own fully-automatic weapons here.

    While there is some political pressure to change that, notably only two crimes have ever been committed with legal privately owned automatic weapons since the first laws were passed in 1934.

    Indeed, the gangs find it easier to illegally run full-auto AK's over the Mexcio-US border.

  14. Anthony Hersey Says:

    We would have banned lasers here, but our customs department was too busy telling its inspectors to seize penis pumps and cock rings at our borders.

  15. jani Says:

    Dan, I can see your point. I too disagree with draconian pointless rules/laws enforced by goons in uniform. I have to go through airport security more often than most people, and some of the things done in the name of protecting the people are plainly stupid and only done to give the appearance of doing something. This also applies to the laser laws - they were an unreasonable knee-jerk reaction to a small but real problem, mainly done for the media headlines to give the impression of doing something. The pre-existing laws would have been sufficient to deal with the problem, and just throwing the first couple of goons caught in jail would have had just as much effect in dealing with the issue. The importation restrictions though allow the security guards and customs people to feel like they're doing a valuable job, and recently they boasted of having already seized 1200 of the things since the ban http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/laser-blitz-snares-1200/2008/09/02/1220121205256.html And, in a leap of logic the number seized means that the restriction was required. So, in short, yes, I agree with you on the stupidity of banning 2mW laser pointers/cat toys but I also think that idiots that try to use said cat toy for evil need to be punished. :)

  16. Gareth Pye Says:

    Jani, are you disputing Dans claim that a 2mW laser isn't plausibly dangerous to a pilot?

    The politician will always go with the new law method though. The new law is guaranteed to make a good headline, asking the police to try and catch a few of the people doing it is only a good political move if they do catch someone. Asking the police to catch someone and having the police fail looks bad for the politician.

  17. corinoco Says:

    Logically, as an Architect, I am in the category of people allowed to own lasers.

    [cue James Bond villain music]

    I guess this means I can now put a laser warning sticker on my car, and get a t-shirt printed "Back off, man, I'm armed with FRIKKIN' LASERS".

    As for laser danger, I would love to see someone aim a handheld 2mW laser for long enough to blind a pilot. I've managed a few seconds into my own eyes (hey, I was drunk) without any lasting effects, so to get the eyball of a pilot from several kilometres away, moving at 250km/h would be quite a feat.

    However, I did notice that Parrametta council were allowed to fire some very substantial lasers around willy-nilly on the basis of it being "art".

    AND...

    "If there’s a sudden outbreak of lunatics running around with bricks smashing skulls, or with lasers blinding people,"

    We should be banning rocks; in the 'soaks' (Transgrid terminology for Western Sydney) throwing rocks at cars on freeways is quite the rage with the kiddies at the moment, with quite a few severe injuries and a couple of deaths. I haven't seen any bans on rocks yet though, or banning of Mt.Druitt residents from breeding (though this would solve a LOT).

  18. LucusLoC Says:

    So sorry for all you Aussies, but you lost your freedoms when you let your government take your arms. now you are just waiting for them to decide what is illegal next, and take that away from you. "those who trade liberty for security are destine to lose both." as for me, here in the backward U.S. of A. I will cling to my "guns and religion" and, quite frankly, my freedom. It is no joke that when a population gives up its right to carry arms that fascism of some sort is not far off. look at history. I value my freedom more than my safety, and history bears out that I will probably be more safe as a result. I guess all you can do now is vote out the retards and vote in someone with some sense, but take it from me (as a staunch "you leave me alone and I will do likewise" conservative) it is a loosing battle. You can call me whatever you want, but as long as I have my rifle and my life, I will be a free man, and I will do as I please (and of course I will be civil about it, we're not animals here).

  19. phrantic Says:

    Yee Haw!

    You've got to draw the line somewhere, LucusLoC. I agree that 2mW lasers is a pretty crappy place to draw that line (since most lasers advertise an entirely-falsified 5mW), but I'm not exactly opposed to gun control.

    I wonder how Wicked Lasers get them in? Declare them as "flashlights"? Bribe stevedores?

  20. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Urban Australians never had any "arms" in the first place, Lucus. The Great Confiscation that NRA types always bring up in the first paragraph of a tide of bullshit about the terrible effects it's had on Australia actually reduced gun ownership in Australian cities from "almost zero" to "slightly closer to zero".

    When someone shoots someone else in Australia, it always makes the front pages of the papers in that State, at the very least. And I have not noticed any particular ability of armed Americans to protect themselves from fascist governments. On the contrary - enthusiastic advocacy of firearms ownership appears to be very strongly positively correlated with 100% heartfelt support of every new authoritarian law. (See "docile beta apes", above.)

    I've got a good canned rant on this subject, after someone (apologetically) mentioned this WorldNetDaily piece, titled "Britain, Australia top U.S. in violent crime", on the Skeptic list.

    That article is a perfect example of this kind of nonsense, and here's what I said in reply:

    'Advocates of less gun control in the U.S. say the drop in gun murder rates was more than offset by the overall victimization increase.

    "Overall victimization", of course, rolls together many different crimes. It is entirely ridiculous to say that this is in any way relevant to "gun murder rates", since most people would probably rather have their car stolen than be shot to death. And for reference, the firearms homicide rate in Australia is about a TENTH of the rate in the USA.

    (Note also that Australia's NON-firearm homicide rate is only about 1.3 per 100,000 per year, versus about 4.6 for the USA.)

    When the absolute number of victims of a given crime in a given country is small - as is the case for yearly firearms homicides in Australia, which seldom make it into triple digits - it's easy for large percentage changes to mean very little about the actual crime rate.

    Martin Bryant's "Port Arthur Massacre" in Tasmania in 1996, which turned gun control into a major political football in Australia and resulted in the new laws that've made US gun-rights lobbyists so upset, killed 35 people. In so doing, Bryant by himself accounted for around a third of all firearms homicides in Australia that year, and increased that year's firearms homicide rate accordingly.

    For a single killer to similarly distort the US firearms-homicide statistics - let alone the overall homicide stats - he'd have to kill about thirteen people a day for the whole year.

    Also, they note that Australia leads the ICVS report in three of four categories -- burglary (3.9 percent of the population),

    This was true, for the 1999 ICVS survey. To get to these figures, though, you had to plough through a lot of very strong caveats, one of which is that the ICVS, then and now, has a lot more trouble getting residents of the USA to actually fill out their surveys than they do in most other countries. So their US figures aren't as accurate as the figures for most other countries.

    As of the 2004 survey, the Australian and US completed-burglary figures are almost identical (but with much bigger error bars on the US figures). The US attempted-burglary score is now significantly higher than Australia's (but again with big error bars, so the real figure may perhaps be lower than Australia's, or even higher than it seems).

    You can see this for yourself on page 69 of the 2004/05 ICVS "key findings", available in PDF format here.

    There's no way to sum up the findings in simple numbers without, as WorldNetDaily did, oversimplifying (and, in their case, also cherry-picking). But it certainly does not appear to be true that Australia has, in general, higher crime rates than the USA, or that Australian crime rates have significantly risen since the number of firearms owned by suburban Australians fell from "very few" to "slightly fewer", or even that Australia has higher rates of the various crimes against which personal firearms are alleged to be helpful.

    Many more documents are available at http://rechten.uvt.nl/icvs/.

    and overall victimization (about 31 percent).

    As of the 2004 survey, Australia's "overall victimisation" rate appears to be lower than that of the USA (and Canada, for that matter). Again, though, the North American error bars are bigger, so it is possible that the US and/or Canadian rates are quite different.

    Note again, however, that rolling ten "common" crimes together does not give a good idea of the overall "criminality" of a country. Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland all have higher "overall victimisation" scores than USA.

    Snopes has a good page about misleading Au-vs-USA crime figures.

  21. LucusLoC Says:

    I'll draw the line with my vote, and failing that, with my rifle ;-) It's the only way really. as for gun control, I'm all for it, wouldn't want to miss now would we?
    Seriously though, before we can rationally discuss such a deep issue, you should probably try to fully understand my point of view. I would recommend you read "A Nation of Cowards" (located here: http://rkba.org/comment/cowards.html ) and watch Innocents Betrayed (website here: http://www.innocentsbetrayed.com/index2.htm, available on torrents for the lazy, though I have no idea what the publishers stance on that is)
    Though I do not necessarily agree with ever last bit of either one, they do represent my view better than most other sources. Read it, watch it, tell me what you think.
    Or alternatively, we could pretend we're politicians and scream at each other till one of us gives up, but since we both read Dan's work, I would assume both of us are at at least triple that IQ, so a meritous argument should be very possible.
    And one last incidental, I am not opposed to gun registration or the like, as I believe that criminals (real criminals, not "the government made me a criminal" criminal) need to be prevented from owning anything "reasonably dangerous." Of course that may also include motor vehicles as well as firearms.

  22. LucusLoC Says:

    Doh, Dan posted at the same time as me. I am well aware that Australia has a lower per capita crime rate than the U.S.A. and that gun ownership in Aussie cities has also been well below U.S. averages. Over all gun ownership in Australia did decline significantly though, with over half a million firearms confiscated.
    The primary point of firearms in a population, though, is not necessarily self defense (most legal firearms in the U.S. are never used violently, offensive or defensive). It is to remind the government who really has the power. Our vote does not come from our governments willingness to give us a vote, but because of our willingness to fight for it.
    I really do not want to bring liberal vs. conservative into this argument, or Iraq. It really has no bearing.
    Yes I am well aware of the funny number available on both sides of the isle. Statistics can be made to say whatever you want them to, even when they don't. I am also very well aware of our very stupid politicians and stupid voters who keep putting them back in office. All of them, spineless and fickle republicans and bitchy controlling democrats together. If it were up to me I'd oust them all.

  23. dr_w00t Says:

    Does anyone else get a little turned on when Dan gets angry?

  24. reyalp Says:

    I suggest that it is your civic duty to report every individual and institution which you suspect of stockpiling these dangerous devices. Starting with every computer retailer, school and office building which can be reasonably expected to have a DVD burner. Remember, only YOU can prevent terrorism.

  25. Joseph Says:

    It's almost a pity that the laser law will never actually be enforced, beyond the customs back-patting over laser pointer control while drug shipments flow by that is. 20,000,000 CD/DVD writers and laser pointers being confiscated might enlighten some of the voters who support won't-somebody-think-of-the-children knee-jerk politicians.

  26. Kagato Says:

    I'm curious, LucasLoC.
    Let's say your government goes one step too far, and becomes an Oppressive State in your opinion. (It doesn't really matter what the reason is.)

    You've got your rifle. What are you going to do with it?

    Shoot any cops as they come calling?
    Start up an insurgency?
    Attempt assassination?

  27. Falk Says:

    Get arrested if he answers that question?

  28. jaws_au Says:

    I was on a commercial flight into Stuttgart last month which was lased... a green laser from an apartment block about a 1km off the flight-path.

    Given the carry-on back home about it, I would have expected the aircraft to explode. But in reality, it was no brighter than the rotating beacon on the airport control tower.

  29. Stark Says:

    Falk - Get arrested? For what exactly? Answering that question is in no way illegal in these United States. Threatening to harm a specific individual is but generalized statements like "If the government oversteps its bounds I'd start an armed resistance" is not. Good grief.

    Heck, we have groups in this country who already espouse this sort of crap right and left and nobody much bats an eye at the rhetoric. Many of them do end up getting arrested - but not for what they've said - usually it's for tax evasion. Like the Govt. or not they still expect you to pay your taxes.

    Meanwhile, Down with the Federal Govt.! Nope, no jackbooted thugs knocking down the door. Funny thing that freedom of speech.

  30. Alex Whiteside Says:

    From one of my Gaussian .logs: "SUPPORT THE RIGHT TO ARM BEARS! (ADD A CLAWS TO THE BILL OF RIGHTS)"

    I've never been convinced by the idea of a firearm as an aid to democracy, mainly because the US government's firepower and domestic intelligence capabilities probably outmatch gun owners by a factor of ten to one. Bears, now those are insurgents I could get behind.

  31. Maverick Ronin Says:

    If insurgents with small arms and mastery of the local terrain are so ineffective does anyone care to explain the trouble we had in Vietnam and are currently having in Iraq? If it helps people who want communist dictatorships and theocratic police states why won't it help people who want representative democracy? (For a second time I might add!)

  32. Alex Whiteside Says:

    A good point. I can only conclude that the Iraqi government passed such an arm-bearing claws before it fell, and that's where many allegedly "endangered" species went.

  33. LucusLoC Says:

    I am not a "down with the government" kind of guy. I pay my taxes, even if I do not agree with all of them since it is part of my civic duty.
    With that said, the Bill of Rights is not some document that actualy -grants- rights, rather it mearly recognizes rights that -inherantly exsist- and the government has no right to infringe on those rights.
    My question to all you Aussies is: what would you do if your government started restricting your free speach? Confiscating your ability to print articles and publish them on the net? Is that a Freedom you are willing to die for? If it is not then we realy have nothing to discuss. I believe my freedom is worth diying for. If you try and take any of my rights away you will find I mean that. As to the way? Well that would realy depend on what the government did. If it is a peacable affair then a march on government buildings by a bunch of angry citizens should be enough to resolve the issue. If it does not then I guess things would escalate from there. If the government does not respond and does not step down when the governed demand it, armed and violent revolt may be the only way. I as an individual may not be able to do much of consequence. But as a member of society, or a million armed and angry citizens, we could acomplish much, possibly without even resorting to actual violence. The threat may be enough.
    Now to the specific question of what I would do if the authorities showed up at my door and demanded my firearms? I would politly ask under what authority they come and by what law they can take them. "The second ammendmant has been repealed" or some such nonsence is not an accatable answer (for the reason why it is not, what would you say to the repeal of the first ammendmant, or its Aussie equivelent?). I would then politly ask him to leave, and inform him that I will use whatever force required to maintain my rights. For 1 person this is a lost battle sure, but for a million or more, it may just get the message across that we will not surrender our freedoms without a fight, in the voting boots or in the streets. (The voting booth is preferable though)

    Sorry about all the misspellings and formating, typing this on my BB, and it has no spell checker.

  34. Alex Whiteside Says:

    More seriously, I just don't know. It's more of a gut feeling than anything else, but I can't trump your counterexamples. Proximity is probably what gets me - that the US's military forces are essentially all in standby in the "warzone", and have a well-equipped infrastructre there already - but not a hugely compelling argument, particularly compared to Iraq.

  35. FuzzyPlushroom Says:

    I got a kick out of reading the story behind the barely-touched-on-in-the-USA Islamic-school story. I think the line "Some of us like Fords, some of us like Holdens" sums that one up nicely - particularly when followed by "But them Nissan drivers can all burn in hell".

  36. FuzzyPlushroom Says:

    Oh, yes... and I believe WickedLasers and similar companies are probably bribing the, er, "fine folks" at Customs.

  37. Daniel Rutter Says:

    The notion that US gun owners would be happy to take to the land as peripatetic guerilla harassers of Government operations, giving up their houses, their TVs and (most of) their cars, living in caves most of the time and only sleeping on a proper bed when they trust a householder 100% not to sell them out to the Feds, is entirely laughable.

    Please note that the current US administration has most certainly "started" strongly attacking free speech, and at least threatened severe limitations on the freedom of the press (but not really bothered to enact them, since the press do not significantly threaten them, and the top cadre of political reporters almost always pretty much go along with the White House in order to keep their "access").

    Other major bullet-points of the Bill of Rights on which the Bush administration does not appear to be very keen: Freedom of religion (which, yes, definitely does include the freedom to have no religion...) and freedom of assembly (lots of fun for those peaceful protesters at the RNC the other day, huh?). They've been having a go at the right to petition, too.

    Credit where it's due: The NRA stood with the ACLU against the most recent attempt to legislate away part of the right to petition. Apart from that, though, the gun owners of the USA appear to largely think that these are all excellent ideas. Precisely zero of them, so far, appear to have felt it necessary to die to protect their freedom. The NRA adores Dubya, even now.

    And then there are the wars, the wholesale ignoring of the Geneva Conventions and the USA's own Constitution, et cetera et cetera. Again unopposed by the USA's "well-regulated militia".

    I suppose you shouldn't expect the US gun lobby to be overly concerned with other people's freedoms, so just on the face of it, it doesn't matter that the government they so strongly support is blowing up innocents and imprisoning goatherds and taxi drivers indefinitely, without charge, on the US taxpayer's dime.

    (And all from countries, I remind you, where every adult male owns an AK-47. Note also that although the insurgency may have killed most of the 4155 US soldiers who've died in Iraq so far, two to three hundred Iraqis have, as best we can calculate, died for every US death. This is the kind of ratio that insurgencies normally have to put up with, but it's a price that the USA's armed "freedom lovers" are obviously nowhere near being ready to pay.)

    No, there's no reason for independent US gun owners to care much about the horrible things their government does overseas, as long as the same crimes don't look like being committed (often...) at home. But then you remember that the US gun lobby also overwhelmingly identifies as being Christian, and you're back in Hypocritical Son Of A Bitch Land.

    OK, maybe you're some kind of rugged atheist individualist gun owner who doesn't hold any of the mainstream-gun-owner authoritarian opinions.

    What have you done, with or without your weapons, to protect your freedom?

    I'm at something of a loss as to what I'd do, in your situation. Voting for the slightly-less-right-wing candidate would I suppose be a start, but how would my rifle and I protest the abomination that is "Free Speech Zones"? How would my rifle and I persuade the government to call off its endless series of war crimes in Iraq, and stop spending trillions of borrowed dollars on nothing but wickedness? How would my rifle and I scale back the hundreds of ruinously expensive military bases the USA has spread across the world, or contest the secret prisons, the torture, and the limitless detention without charge (the FISA court system would already have had the Founding Fathers starting a whole new Revolution to get rid of it, but now FISA by itself is being treated as if it's an unalloyed socialist wonderland...)? How would my rifle and I pull the teeth out of the astonishingly expensive and utterly counter-productive CIA?

    Beats me.

    I don't think I'd sit there talking about my willingness to die for freedoms I don't even seem to very much want, though.

  38. Red October Says:

    Turning this into a huge argument about the purpose of owning a thing is silly, because there are always sound arguments for and against. The fact of the matter is that law-abiding people will act resposibly with their weapons, their cars, and their lasers. Nutters will not, and they'll resort to killing people with stones if killing people is what they truly want to do. I'm a libertarian and despise these silly left-right arguments. The government simply shouldn't be telling me I can't have something because it's scary or potentially dangerous. I've no problem with being held responsible for what I DO with said dangerous article, but telling me I can't have it because it's potentially dangerous is lunacy.

  39. evk Says:

    I also got caught - the ebay seller I purchased from shipped out a little slowly, and they arrived after the 1st July ban. I tried retrieving them from customs, but what no-one actually tells you, is even if you do the paperwork dance, there is an almost $200 fee to even apply for a chief commissioner's permit, a fact a very rude licensing branch employee called Lyn Ciuchak pointed out to me only after I'd gone to the trouble of actually submitting the B709B form.
    An utter waste of everyone's time, frankly.
    Oh, and these were purchased on behalf of a couple of academics. For lectures.

  40. dr_w00t Says:

    @Red October, what about what other people do with said dangerous article? That's the point - you might keep yours locked up for purposes bonafide, but what if I roam the streets at night wielding mine with intent?

    The point is: moronic legislation.

  41. Red October Says:

    @ dr_w00t -then they too shall be held responsible. Possibly by other people willing to weild theirs with intent. We are adults and should be treated like it by our governments. Adults are held responsible for their actions and act accordingly, and responsible adults should likewise hold others to the same standard. Weather it be through force of law or peer pressure, this is how a resposible and free society behaves. But rather many today would rather we be a soceity of children, sheltered from the Big Bad World by Big Brother who doesn't let us play with dangerous toys or look at naughty pictures or drink the happy drink or smoke the nice plants.

  42. dr_w00t Says:

    The point is:
    - sub-machinegun = dangerous
    - sub-5mW pointer = not dangerous

    I don't want you, a law-abiding persion (prior to the spree slaying of 35 random people so was Martin Bryant) to have an automatic rifle and I'll happily have my own freedom of owning one legislated away to acheive that end. There is, however, a balance between ultimate freedom (read: lawless anarchy) and a Big Brother poilce state.

    A fully automatic machine gun is dangerous enough to warrant a ban or severe restriction. A rock thrown from an overpass is more dangerous than a sub 5mW laser pointer aimed at a jet.

    Banning automatic weapons is a good idea. Banning cat toys is extreme and pointless.

    The vast majority of Australians are apathetic rubes, just like Americans. Quality of life is passable, civil liberties are being erroded but most won't notice or care until they are all but gone. Poli's are self serving, interests of the nation are far distant. Nothing new here though, it just sucks when it impinges on your lifestyle, as it did for Dan. Nothing you can do about it but vent your spleen on your blog though.

    At least we in Australia are still better off than what, 98% of the world's population?

  43. Red October Says:

    I, as a law-abiding citizen, in this country, can own an automatic rifle. I know of people who have quad-mount anti-aircraft guns. Last I knew, fully fifty percent of the full-auto weapons in my land are in the hands of private citizens. Since the National Firearms Act came into force, only ONE such arm was used by its rightful holder to commit a crime, and he was a policeman. Banning nearly anything is foolish. I believe in resposibility. I find it ludicrous that in most states you can get a driving lisence in a small, automatic shift car, and immediately go drive a 42' Bus-chassis Motorhome. I am in full favor of measures to ensure that anyone who wishes to have something that may endanger me or my countrymen is not a nutter and will handle it propperly. Proficiency with a weapon should be proved just like it is with a vehicle, because that is responsible.

    The Marquis of Beccaria said it better than I:
    "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms ... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Can it be supposed that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, the most important of the code, will respect the less important and arbitrary ones, which can be violated with ease and impunity...? Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man. They ought to be designated as laws not preventive but fearful of crimes, produced by the tumultuous impression of a few isolated facts, and not by thoughtful consideration of the inconveniences and advantages of a universal decree."

  44. cr Says:

    Nice rant, Dan! (Up there at 38).

    Red October, your point about the very few crimes carried out with fully-automatic weapons is well taken. I assume, therefore, you'd support banning the weapons that cause the vast majority of US shooting deaths, which is to say, handguns?

    (Incidentally, I live in New Zealand, which does precisely that - severely restrict handguns. It's a great comfort to me to know that none of my law-abiding neighbours is likely, if provoked (as everybody gets at times), to grab his registered law-abiding strictly-for-personal-defence S&W .44 and start shooting people with it :)

  45. patto Says:

    Consider yourself lucky Dan!

    Here in VIC, my friend recieved 120hrs community service. His heinous crime was possession of a rubber band gun that he had made with his fathers help when he was 10 years old. The ammunition was highly dangerous rubber bands. (When I was a school we just used the 30cm rulers for this).

    He could have fought the charges like any one convicted of a CRIME but if he had lost he would have recieved a CRIMINAL conviction on his record. As it was, he pleaded guilty and avoided the criminal conviction. Nice justice hey? (All this for a guy who has never got so much as a parking ticket!)

    This was all thanks to a nosey neighbour, firearm laws that could possibly cover anything and the absurd paranoia that has engulfed the western world since a couple of people hijacked a couple of planes on the other side of the world.

    Oh and did I mention the armed rapid response team that showed up outside his house because of previously mention prohibited item.

  46. Daniel Rutter Says:

    My first response to Patto's comment was: "Jesus Christ - seriously?! Was this written up anywhere?"

    Then I noticed the "he didn't fight the charges" part.

    Given that - well, yeah. If some nosy neighbour falsely claims he saw you burying a body on the day a kid disappeared, and the cops arrest you as a result, and you choose not to fight the charges... you're going to jail for a long time.

    That's why you fight the bleeding charges.

    Nothing that happens in a courtroom surprises me these days, but surely even the doziest of court-provided defenders could get you off on THESE charges. You'd think that allowing the judge to empty a whole magazine into your head would be considered punishment enough.

    If this was one of those Zero Tolerance sorts of situations where the judge was forced to convict and 120 hours of C.S. was the minimum possible sentence, then that'd just be the normal fallout from Law-and-Order politicking. But if you just knuckle under because you don't want to be convicted of something that Blind Freddy, Q.C. could see you weren't going to be convicted of, then you're just dumb.

    I also think that we may, as is so often the case in Horrifying Tales of the Law, be missing out on some of the story, here.

    What you describe sounds like a plea bargain. But, to the best of my non-lawyer knowledge, those only exist in Victoria to the extent that some charges can be dropped if you plead guilty to other charges. You can't get a single charge "pled down" to another one, like you see people doing all the time in US cop shows.

    So whatever your friend pled guilty to was one, non-criminal, charge, and the other charge(s) that was (or were) dropped may have actually been the ludicrous Possession Of A Fully Automatic [mumble] Weapon one.

  47. patto Says:

    Hey Dan, yes this is all true.

    But your assumption that it was a crime that "Blind Freddy, Q.C. could see you weren’t going to be convicted of" may be a little optimistic.

    The law basically says anything that looks like a gun is a gun. When interviewed (without a lawyer but presumably after being read his rights), my friend conceeded that the two pieces of wood nailed together and painted black did indeed bear some resemblance to a 'gun'. (As was his intention when he built the damn thing when he was 10 years old.) It was a stupid admission but he thought the whole thing was a joke at the time. The admission that it looked similar to a firearm would make fighting the charges alot more difficult.

    There isn't a whole lot more to the story really. My friend had last 'used' the rubber band gun as a prop at a fancy dress party a few weeks earlier. The neighbour presumably alerted the police when he moved the gun from the car to the house. (he probably should have chucked it into a black sports bag like every other crim knows to hide it)

    If it would have been me I most likely would have damn well fought in tooth and nail. However being a poor student my mate could not afford a good lawyer, didn't want to waste the time and didn't want to risk a criminal conviction.

    Regarding his 'plea' i'm not sure what the legal arrangement was. I'm not sure what possible other offense he could have committed.

    Here is the act in question:
    http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/vic/consol_act/fa1996102/

    In particular:

    "firearm means any device, whether or not assembled or in parts and whether or not operable or complete or temporarily or permanently inoperable or
    incomplete-

    (a) which is designed or adapted to discharge shot or a bullet or other missile by the expansion of gases produced in the device by the ignition of strongly combustible materials or by compressed air or other gases, whether stored in the device in pressurised containers or produced in the device by mechanical means; or

    (b) which has the appearance of such a device- and which is not-

    ..."

    Take note of (b).

  48. Daniel Rutter Says:

    Yes, "replica" weapons are illegal in Australia. But my local 2-dollar store sells toy guns that're more realistic than a 10-year-old's wooden rubber-band gun.

    Replicas of fictional firearms, like for instance a pulse rifle from Aliens, still count as replicas, because someone who's not very savvy about guns could easily still believe that they are one. Stuff that does not look as "real" as that, though, does not. There's a grey area here, but just because something is black and vaguely gun-shaped does not mean it makes the cut.

    I strongly doubt your friend would have needed a good, or even passed-the-Bar-by-the-skin-of-his-teeth, lawyer to beat this rap. I'm sure the cops were quite pleased that he believed them when they told him otherwise and then incremented their convictions by one, though.

    Don't talk to the police.

  49. Red October Says:

    A rubber band gun! That's ludicrous!

    CR, I wouldn't ban handguns, but I'd be damn sure that everyone who had one was propperly lisenced and instructed in its propper use. The key point here is not if someone uses a shotgun, pistol, rifle, or machine gun to work mayhem, but that usually the weapon is illegally held. The man responsible for the Port Arthur massacre used a rifle purchased illegally, and that is the crux of the matter -someone who sets out to murder dozens won't stop for a picosecond to consider that his weapons are illegally held. He's probably thinking he won't live to stand trial.

  50. LucusLoC Says:

    Wow, gone for a couple of days and look at all the posts. Nice discussion too.

    I'll say a few things and then be done, though it is nice to see a discussion on gun control without a lot of screaming.

    First off a responce to Dan:
    I do verry much like my freedomes, and while I am aware that they are being erroded away at an alarming rate we are not realy anywhere near the point where an armed revolt is nessisary. Like Red October said, excercizing responcibility with you tools (any of them) is important.My current level of freedome her in Cali, while not as free as I would like, is one I am willing to submit to for the sake of civic coheasion. I own a rifle, a shotgun, and am looking to get a pistol. Hopefily in the next few years we will be allowed to have CCPs. With that I can be content. Other than that, stupid laws like "no styrifome" and other such nonsence can be delt with by voting. It may take time, but sooner or later the public should be able to see the utter stupidness of it all. Utill then I live with the inconvienence.

    I really did not want to get the war involved in this convorsation, but I will say this, we are at war with an unidentified enemy, who hides behind civilians and does not obey any of the geneva conventions. This enemy rutienly attacks civilian targets with the intent to cause as much chaos as possible. You can argue about better ways to handle it, the reasons to be there, morality etc. The fact of the matter is that we are there, the new government is getting stronger and more able to take care of itself, U.S. Soldiures are still winning over the people, who are cooperating more and more, and their welfare is better off because of it. The enemy (whose stated goal is to destroy the west, in case you didnt know, look at the videos and audios released by their "leaders") is loosing ground and support, and in many provinces is a small enough problem that the Iraqi army can deal with them without U.S. support. Are thigs perfect over there? Of course not. Will we have to babysit their government for years to come if we want them to remain stable and relativly free? Probably. Are peoples rights trapled in a war zone, esecialy when the enemy is using civilians as cover and does not care who they kill as long as they get their 72 virgins? Apparently. I guess the alternative is to kill all the people who look suspisious, but I am quite content to have my tax dollars go to "unlawfuly" detain them instead.

    As a responce to Dr Woot, please read A Nation of Cowards at the above mentioned link. It realy is a good read.

    Again, sorry about spelling and typos. I am on the road and typing from my BB. Reponces may also be infrequent since coverage is spotty at best.

  51. Warg Says:

    I think the idea of reporting any and all corporations etc that can be reasonably suspected of possessing "illegal high-powered laser guns" is a good one. It would also be a good idea to file as many applications as possible for the purchasing of "laser weapons", if it didn't cost as much as it apparently does.

    Something sort-of-similar happened here in Norway a few years ago, when they tried to regulate the possession of suppressors (silencers) for use on firearms. Now, a suppressor isn't in itself the least dangerous; it's merely a small muffler like the one on your car's exhaust pipe, and all it does is reduce noise somewhat. Its main purpose is to protect the shooter's hearing, and keep the neighbors happy. Almost overnight and without any good explanation, suppressors went from being totally unregulated to being something you could only buy after filing a special application, paying a fee, and hopefully getting your application approved. Police could deny such applications almost at will, if they didn't think you had a "legitimate need" for a noise reduction device.

    What happened was, THOUSANDS of such applications were filed in a matter of weeks. Police were overwhelmed with paperwork over an issue that was clearly pure stupidity; AFAIK suppressed weapons have only been used in two shooting incidents since WWII, and in the one case the suppressor was only used because it happened to be on the rifle at the time. In neither case did the suppressors make a blind bit of difference to the outcome.

    Even police don't like paperwork that serves no purpose, and the burden of all these applications to purchase suppressors threatened to swamp the whole system so no real work could get done. Pretty soon, the regulations were lifted. Today, suppressors are only theoretically regulated; one may legally purchase, build or otherwise obtain suppressors for use on any weapon that one legally owns. It is illegal to possess a suppressor for an illegally owned weapon, but there's no extra hassle for a law-abiding gun owner who wants to shoot holes in paper without making a racket. Suppressors are once again available over the counter, no paperwork required or questions asked.
    And, of course, there's been no wave of silent shooting sprees.

  52. Falk Says:

    Stark: "Falk - Get arrested? For what exactly?"
    Kagato: "Shoot any cops as they come calling?
    Start up an insurgency?
    Attempt assassination?"
    Title VIII, USAPATRIOT Act (2001): "... influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion ..." (shooting policemen, starting an insurgency)
    Ibid: "[T]o affect the conduct of a government by ... assassination ..." (er, assassination)

    And with "no knock" raids such a favourite at the moment, (whats left of) your fourth amendment rights mightn't provide you with quite the level of protection your founders may have hoped.

    Cheers,

    Falk.


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