American gun store owners aren’t the only ones that are worried about their ability to continue to operate amidst the coronavirus shutdown orders that are sweeping the globe. In Australia, many owners and employees of gun stores say they can’t understand why they’ve been forced to close, and they’re concerned that they may not be able to afford to re-open after the orders have been lifted.
From the Brisbane Times:
Gun dealers say they will need to close their stores for good and some farmers are unable to perform pest control, leading to an alarming increase in the number of farm animals being killed by foxes.
Firearms dealers are questioning why they were forced to stop trading – including a suspension of their online sales – with no advance notice, while retailers such as JB Hi-Fi remained open.
The decision to ban the sales of firearms and ammunition was announced by the Victorian government and Victoria Police on the final day of March. Authorities cited an increase in gun sales and fears of domestic violence as justification for the measure.
So, just as in the United States, concerns over economic uncertainty and a potential rise in crime drove up gun sales. And just as we’ve seen from some anti-gun politicians in places like California and New Jersey, the simple fact that more people were buying guns was reason enough to try to shut down sales completely.
There are more parallels to what we’re going through in the U.S. As the Brisbane Times notes, the orders to close gun shops aren’t coming from the federal government, but are limited to those states where anti-gun attitudes are most prevalent.
No Liberal-controlled state banned gun sales, raising suspicions the bans were triggered by governments with the firearms industry firmly in their targets.
“It’s absolutely ridiculous that it’s one rule for another and one for us,” said Belinda Mann, owner of a gun shop in the regional town of Lexton.
Ms Mann is one of many gun shop owners who said their businesses would not survive if the ban extended for a lengthy period of time. More than 100 gun dealers in Victoria rely on the trade of recreational gun products to sporting shooters and hunters.
“My family is more stressed than we’ve ever been … the government doesn’t care, it’s as simple as that,” she said.
It’s not that the government in the state of Victoria doesn’t care. It’s not indifference that we’re seeing on the part of anti-gun politicians, but hostility. Lawmakers supportive of the measure forcing gun shops to shut down will be thrilled if people like Belinda Mann are put out of business permanently, even if that means good people are forced out of business.
It’s not just shop owners who’ve been affected by the closures of gun stores in states under control of the Labor Party. Farmers and ranchers are feeling the effects as well, with a growing number of livestock becoming food for predators instead of people.
“We’ve got five or six dying every night,” said Simmo Evans, 44.
Mr Evans, from the town of Beaufort, said farmers in the his local area take turns performing pest control on each other’s farms at night. As landowners have started to run low on ammunition over the past fortnight, this practice has stopped.“We’ve got farmers screaming out for people to help but we can’t. We don’t have ammo,” he said.
“Lambing season is coming up and we don’t know what to do. There’s so many people affected.”
Those pleas from farmers are likely to fall on deaf ears. After all, surely government officials know what’s best for their subjects, right? These farmers can just use air horns or didgeridoos to try to scare off foxes and other predators. There’s no need to protect your property with a gun, or so these anti-gun lawmakers believe. And unlike the United States, there is no right to own a firearm to be found in Australia’s constitution or laws. The Labor governments that are implementing these shutdowns are within their power to do so, and if their actions means that the stores end up closing forever, all the better as far as they’re concerned.