A NEW group entitled SAFE- Stop Arms Fairs in Eurobodalla – in the last few weeks has done a letterbox drop with a flyer introducing itself to the community.
Spokesperson Susan Cruttenden said the flyer was asking the question “Do we want guns displayed for potential sale in our community our leisure centre in the heart of town?”
This is a question the members of SAFE think the Eurobodalla Shire Council should have asked the electorate, but didn’t, she said.
“In 2012 a local hunting club asked permission of Eurobodalla Shire Council to run an annual festival of hunting (the Huntfest) in Narooma for the next five years,” she said.
“They assured council and the community that there would be no guns, and yet 12 months later they were requesting permission to allow guns, bows and arrows, and interactive hunting machines to be included in their ‘family friendly’ event.
“Most of the locals were unaware this change was being proposed, but many still objected through e-mails, surveys, petitions, and submissions to council.
“Councillors voted five to three in favour of the event, arguing that because it was ‘legal’ it should be allowed to proceed, regardless of possible effects on the reputation of the community, the protection of the environment or the influence on our children.
“The permit to display and promote the sale of guns in our shire will have a far reaching effect on us all. There is evidence that the powerful proponents of a US-style gun culture are actively working to liberalise Australia’s strict gun laws.
“Robert Borsak, one of two Shooters and Fishers Party MP’s in the NSW upper house was a special visitor to the 2013 Huntfest in Narooma. He has been quoted as saying, ‘There’s no way Australian gun laws are appropriate or should be enforced.’
“We don’t want Eurobodalla to be part of this change of culture.”
“If you agree with us, and are concerned by the fact that council appears to be responding to powerful lobby groups, and not to the wishes of the broader electorate, you are urged to e-mail SAFE at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to us at SAFE, PO Box 295, Narooma NSW 2546.”
Further information on SAFE can be gained from visiting the website www.safe.websyte.com.au
The response from the South Coast Hunters Club
South Coast Hunters Club spokesman and HuntFest coordinator Onno DeSmeth said it appeared that democracy was seen by some to only be an option if it provides the results that you want.
“This is no more apparent than with the group that calls themselves SAFE,” he said.
“They claim to be a new group but are actually the same tired, small minded group that pops up every time someone dares to mention the word ‘firearm’.
“Given the opportunity to oppose the request by the South Coast Hunters club (SCHC) to be permitted to exhibit firearms at the next HuntFest event, they were soundly defeated by a majority of six to three at council (not five to three as repeatedly pointed out by them, the mayor also voted in favour), a fact they conveniently keep forgetting.
“In any normal democracy a vote of two to one is a powerful majority and reflects the wishes of that community, but obviously not to this little group. They also claim to be representing the broader electorate, creative number crunching to be sure.
“Just to set the record straight, the SCHC requested the exhibition of firearms on their original application but were advised to withdraw that request until the event could be seen to be a success. Well, the event is a success and the council has acknowledged the arguments for exhibiting firearms – end of story.
“Firearms are exhibited in every gun shop and most sport stores around Australia, hardly a new phenomenon. If anything the restrictions and security are a lot tighter at HuntFest than at any other commercial outlet. For what it’s worth, Narooma had a sports store for many years where firearms were exhibited and no mayor disaster eventuated.
“The solution to this hysteria is really simple, if you don’t wish to see firearms don’t go inside the building, there is a lot to see and enjoy in the outside area. And if you are opposed to the whole thing, you don’t have to come.
“As for the ‘interactive hunting machines’, they are no more than a video tool that teaches the user about shot placement and animal behavior and are recognized as an educational tool.
“These people have obviously never seen the types of computer games that are regularly played by children of all ages which graphically depict the killing and maiming of humans for which point are earned. Maybe SAFE would be better served protecting children from these influences.
“In all their literature, this group fails to actually tell us what they are really about. They use a lot of clichés, unsubstantiated claims, misquotes, and plagiarized writings but never state why they are so opposed to HuntFest and the obvious benefits it brings to our community. “It’s not enough to say “we don’t want it” and please, leave the ‘negative’ influence on children out of it.
“We hope everyone else will enjoy a much improved HuntFest this year and invite you to visit our website, www.huntfest.com.au, for updates and opening times.”