Due to the move of the blog to Wordpress posts from Jan 2012 onward will have commenting disabled (when I remember to do it)
Cheers - AE

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Geese and gander.

What's good for one is supposedly good for the other, right? Uhm, well, that's often not the case when it comes to regular citizens and citizens employed by the state (big or little S, doesn't matter). By way of example let me first introduce you to Australia's, more specifically, Victoria's, version of Dumb and Dumber.
Two Victorian men have been hospitalised after shooting each other to see whether it would hurt.
Make any banjo remarks you want to now and get 'em over with. There are to be no more banjo references hereafter.
Labelled "dumb and dumber" by police, the duo had been drinking beer before they decided to shoot each other with an air rifle.
And that's a double score for the righteous - guns, albeit only an air rifle, and alcohol. The non-righteous are probably just wondering how the hell that works. Does A shoot B and then B has a go at shooting A, or do they do it both together? In case you're wondering they did take it in turns, prompting the further question of having shot a mate with an airgun to see what happens how mad/much beer do you need to have had to let him do it to you? I realise that mateship and a fair go are important concepts in the Aussie psyche but there are limits, surely?
The men, from the Grampians region in Victoria's west, took it in turns to shoot each other in the backside and the leg about 5.30pm (AEST) on Sunday. It is believed the duo thought they had escaped injury, other than experiencing a bit of pain.

Two days later, the men were hospitalised. They will require surgery to have slug pellets removed from their buttocks and legs.
And you'd be forgiven for thinking that this would be sufficient. The crime, if you can call it a crime when the perpetrators are and were intended to be the only victims, provided its own punishment.

You'd be mistaken.
Police have withdrawn one man's firearms licence and have confiscated his guns.
I'm in two minds about this because while it was essentially a victimless crime it's still worthy of police scrutiny. I take recreational shooting seriously enough that I get really annoyed by people dicking around with guns, sober or otherwise, and making the responsible majority look bad. And to be honest the reaction isn't quite in the same league as, say for example, summary five year sentences just for having a gun (see Dick Puddlecote and others - Australia at least still has licences for some handguns despite John Howard's knee-jerk reaction to the Port Arthur killings). But at the end of the day if these two had been hospitalised because they'd drunk a load of beer and decided to chuck rocks at each other to see if it would hurt there'd be laughter and shrugging of shoulders and talk of there being no law against that kind of stupidity and no way to enforce it if there was.

On the whole and providing the guy has a chance to get his licence and guns returned I lean towards supporting the actions of Victoria Police. Except for one thing...

... what about this guy?
... Simon Overland sparked a security scare at Canberra Airport after trying to board a flight carrying ammunition.

[Mr Overland] had already flown to Canberra from Melbourne without the bullets being discovered... [he] had forgotten to take the ammunition out of his carry-on luggage.1
Mr Overland was found to be carrying the ammunition magazine at Canberra airport on the way back to Victoria, but had already passed through security in Melbourne and flown to the capital with the ammunition magazine.

Senior Sergeant Davies said Mr Overland did not deserve any preferential treatment although he acknowledged it was an oversight.

"Our position will be there is one law for everyone," he said.2
And why would anyone think Mr Overland would get special treatment or that there's one law for some and another law for the rest? Because Simon Overland, for readers outside Australia, is the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police. If reports are to be believed taking ammunition onto a flight is a criminal offence carrying a maximum sentence of seven years and a $110,000 fine, but what he got amounted to an official bollocking. In fairness I think this was about right as well. If the most senior officer in a state police force can't be trusted with a weapon on board an aircraft then seriously, where the fuck are we? The fact that he didn't even have a weapon when he flew back from Canberra, just some bullets for a gun he'd left locked away in Melbourne, makes it even less of a big deal. An official bollocking is more than sufficient if you ask me, and that only because it caused embarrassment to his office and his force. But what if he'd been a regular citizen?
...senior crime investigators and aviation experts have criticised the decision, saying any civilian making the same mistake would have been arrested and charged.
Obviously I'm not suggesting that Simon Overland should have been jailed or fined for what is in effect a pretty trivial error. Like I said, I wouldn't be concerned if he'd carried a gun on board as well, at least I wouldn't if he'd made it known to the AFP and airline people in advance. For the oversight of forgetting he had a few rounds in the bottom of his bag a reprimand seems about right. But, and it's a big but, the same should apply to any other law abiding citizen.

And somehow I don't have much faith that the courts would have let anyone else off so lightly. So much for there being one law for everyone.

PS - as far as the Simon Overland incident goes the bigger concern was that he able to get the bullets on his outbound flight undetected and it wasn't realised until he was in Canberra. The person responsible at Melbourne airport was 'stood down'.

1 - story
2 - The Australian
Related Posts with Thumbnails