Arizona -(Ammoland.com)- David Dunstan, an Australian farmer who defended his family from an armed intruder, may have finally gotten his three guns back. His story illustrates much that is wrong with Australia's extreme gun laws.
No one disputes the events that brought David Dunstan and his family to the attention of the authorities.
David Dunstan lives on a rural property near Bungowannah, New South Wales. It is about 10 miles outside the Australian town of Albury. At 3 a.m. on the 14th of September, 2017 he answered the door and found himself confronting a teen armed with a knife and a large club. He slammed the door shut, and called for his wife to get the key to the gun cupboard. He retrieved an unloaded .22 rifle and used it to convince the thug that he should get in a car and drive to the police station. The offender is in jail without bail. He is suspected of invading another house just before he threatened the Dunstans. From weeklytimesnow.com.au:
A farmer who armed himself with an unloaded gun to protect his family from a knife-wielding thug says he fears the justice system is “stacked against” victims. Father-of-three David Dunstan, 52, was left reeling after police turned up at his property near the NSW-Victorian border to investigate the home invasion — and confiscated the farmer’s legal firearms while they were there, the Herald Sun reports. It came after the cattle and crop farmer confronted a teen armed with a knife and a block of wood who knocked on his back door about 3am last Thursday. “He had a seven foot log of red gum in his hand a knife concealed in the other,” Mr Dunstan said.
The police had no problem with David taking charge of the teen home invader and delivering him into police custody. They had plenty of problems with him having a .22 rifle with him when he did it.
Police seized his three guns for contravention of the firearms act. From bordermail.com.au:
Police seized his guns, which he uses for pest control at his property, later that day.
“I just don’t know what I should have done, what would have been the right way to do it,” Mr Dunstan said.
“My gun licence is for vermin control.
“I suppose, technically, trying to protect yourself is not classed as that.
“I’ve always done the right thing, but I feel like I’ve done the wrong thing.”
Under New South Wales law, and Australian law generally, firearms may *only* be used for the purpose the license to use them for is issued under. If the license is not issued for self-defense, they may not be used for self-defense. The 1996 firearms agreement between Australia states specifically forbids issuing a firearms license for self-defense. If license holders use their license for self defense, they can lose their license to own a firearm forever. They can be jailed for up to five years.
The police impounded David's three firearms on September 14th. On October 3rd, they put restrictions on David's wife, Andrea, who also had a firearms license. She was not allowed to have any firearms while living with David. David had never been convicted of any crime.
On October 4th, David was told he was cleared of any charges. That did not mean he would get his firearms back, or that he would retain his firearms license, or that his wife would be able to have firearms if she continued to live with him.
Firearms owners in Australia were outraged. They sent contributions to David's defense. They wrote letters to the editor. They contacted their representatives.
On 16 October 2017, the special conditions were lifted from Andrea Dunstan's firearms license.
On 25 October 2017, David was told that he was now able to collect his firearms and license from the police.
On Wednesday, October 25, his efforts paid off. David received a letter from NSW Police, informing him that he could collect his firearms and licence. The letter stated, “It is important that you understand that the legislation prohibits you from possessing or using firearms for the purpose of personal protection”.
Over $20,000 dollars were donated to aid in David Dunstan's legal battle. Any money left over will be used to prevent future incidents of a similar nature.
On 22 November 2017, the Deputy Premier and Minister for NSW wrote to the Legislative Assembly Committee on Law and Safety to request an inquiry into the Firearms Act of 2016 in terms of defense during a home invasion. By itself, such a letter does little; but it can be the start of reforming the law.
As reported in sportingshooter.com, Australians are hoping to add a commonsense reform to the firearms law, to prevent the sort of abuse that occurred with the Dunstans. As of 13 February 2018, from sportingshooter.com:
This means that if you obtain a firearm for primary production, then that’s all you can use it for.
Use it for something else – whether it is target shooting, hunting or protecting your family home – and you risk imprisonment for up to 5 years.
While this saga was unfolding, we helped the Dunstans write to Mr Barilaro suggesting simple amendments to the Act which would have helped avoid a repetition. We suggested the NSW Government consider adding the simple clause of ‘without reasonable excuse’ to s7A so that it forces the police – and judiciary – to consider the circumstances in which the firearm was used, rather than ignore them.
If these words, which are used in other legislation, had been in place last September, then David’s guns would never have been taken away.
Australian firearms law is some of the most extreme and restrictive firearms law in Western civilization. Perhaps the most extreme part is outlawing of the use of firearms for self-defense. Even in England and Wales, or in Canada, while licenses are not granted for self-defense, self-defense with a firearm is not prohibited.
©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
About Dean Weingarten:
Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.