Firearms advocates have appeared at a gun control gathering in Sydney to complain about being “painted as criminals” by anti-gun activists.
The event – called by Gun Control Australia (GCA) and the Homicide Victims Support Group (HVSG) to appeal for the continued banning of the Adler A110 shotgun – was attended by Mary Cusumano, whose husband Angelo was shot dead 20 years ago during an armed robbery at the family business.
“I suppose I’m just a little bit angry that we’re still dealing with [the issue of gun control] 20 years later,” Ms Cusumano told the audience.
“We need to stop this gun [Adler A110] from coming into Australia just in case it gets into the wrong hands.”
During a question and answer session, a gun owner with pro-firearm opinions began a back-and-forth with Ms Cusumano.
According to The Guardian, one of the owners at the event, Stephen Brasher, told Ms Cusumano a “bad man” killed her husband, and not a gun.
The men waited until the press conference was finished to ask questions in the time allotted for them at the end.
“With all due respect to you and I’m very sorry for your loss, you keep saying the gun killed your husband, it’s an inanimate object, it’s in the hands of a bad man,” Mr Brasher said.
“A bad man killed your husband, he used a gun to do it,” he said.
Ms Cusumano responded: “That’s exactly right, but if he didn’t have that gun …”, until Mr Brasher interrupted: “He would have used something else.”
A witness told The New Daily the men were at no point threatening or abusive, however the mood in the room was “weird and tense” when Mr Brasher interrupted Ms Cusumano.
Supporters of relaxed gun laws backed the firearm owners on social media, with Ron Nunn writing on Facebook: “Good on the gun owners.”
“The drivel that the opposition is spreading is almost actionable,” he wrote. “It is time that the community was handed the truth rather than emotive rubbish.”
A110 ‘verges on being a high-power pump action shotgun’
The Adler A110 is currently banned in Australia, but the former Abbott government lifted the ban in July.
It will be allowed back into the country by August 2016, thanks to a deal struck with NSW cross-bench senator David Leyonhjelm.
GCA and HVSG want that decision to be overturned, so the seven-shot firearm is not allowed into Australia.
The five-shot version of the Adler A110 is currently available in Australia.
On Wednesday, The New Daily published a story about the calls to continue the ban on the Adler A110, generating plenty of heated debate.
In that piece, and at the event on Thursday, chair of the GCA Samantha Lee pleaded for the gun to be banned again.
“Our gun laws are not for sale,” Ms Lee said on Thursday.
“We expect police ministers to put safety above all else and to ban the import of the Adler shotgun.”
She claimed the A110 verged on being a high-powered pump action shotgun.
But the three gun owners from NSW who arrived at Thursday’s event claimed they were being vilified by the gun control lobby.
Gun owner Justin Luke said law-abiding shooters were being treated like criminals.
“We are being painted as criminals and that has to stop,” he said.
“The vilification of law-abiding shooters has to stop and … the attention needs to be on criminals.”
Mr Brasher agreed, saying GCA was spreading misinformation about the Adler A110.
“It’s old technology, it’s 19th century technology,” he said.
“They are trying to present it as some fearful assault weapon, but it’s not, it’s just an old fashioned-style shotgun.
“Furthermore, it’s not new, a similar design from a different maker has been present in Australia for at least 10 years.”
Pro-gun lobby vehemently defend shotgun
The confrontation has sparked a fierce debate and outpouring of support for the three men being shown on the Shooters and Fishers Party Facebook page.
“All firearm owners that I know are great citizens of their community. You cannot legislate for insanity or lunacy,” Phillip Graham wrote.
“This type will commit crimes which ever way they can. I bet it is very rare for registered and licenced firearms to be used in crime by the owners.”
Another user, Rodney Chard, wrote: “I’d like to see how many crimes are actually committed with firearms that are registered.”
“Most firearms that are used are pistols, or military stuff. The ones who commit crimes with firearms that are illegal should be the ones getting punished, not the ones who are doing the right thing.”
Justice Minister Michael Keenan has said the Turnbull government was still considering its position on lever-action shotguns with a capacity of more than five rounds.
Carol Loughton has started a petition against allowing the seven-round Adler shotgun into Australia. It has attracted more than 11,000 signatures.
“We urge people to stop the Adler shotgun and to support legislation in each state to achieve this,” Ms Loughton wrote in the petition.
– with ABC