Australia’s gun control laws are obviously a lot more restrictive than those in the United States, but despite the best efforts of the gun control lobby in the country, they haven’t managed to eradicate gun ownership. In fact, there are actually more firearms in private hands in Australia now than there were before the country’s infamous gun ban and compensated confiscation efforts in the late 1990s, though the number of gun owners themselves has declined. Still, guns and gun control are still hot-button issues in Australian politics, so when the Labor Party decided to tap former Olympic shooter and coal miner Daniel Repacholi to run for a seat in Australia’s Parliament, the backlash from anti-gun activists was almost certain to follow.
As it turns out, it’s not Repacholi’s experience as a competitive shooter that’s being used as the first line of attack. Instead, it’s his social media posts.
The former Olympic shooter and coalminer, described by outgoing Hunter MP Joel Fitzgibbon as a “normal larrikin Australian”, has already been forced to apologise for some of his social media activity, including describing India as a “shit hole” on his return from the Commonwealth Games in 2010.
On Tuesday, Guardian Australia reported that he had also taunted opponents of coalmining on his now-deleted Facebook page, with a post that said they should “sit in the cold and freeze” in winter, angering progressives in the seat.
Repacholi has also cited his favourite quote as being, “Size dosent (sic) matter when you have 130 kg pushing it.”
… Guardian Australia has been sent a trove of Repacholi’s Instagram activity from his previous verified site “BigDanReps”, which shows he followed a range of sexually charged sites before deleting his account, including a North American site that publishes images of provocatively dressed and naked women posing with assault rifles and machine guns, and in some cases, grenades.
Note that they’re not even accusing Repacholi of posting these pictures. No, they’re trying to start a controversy over the fact that he simply followed accounts that did so. But that’s not the only thing that his critics are highlighting.
Concerns have been raised about the professional shooter’s views on stricter gun laws, with the NSW Amateur Pistol Association – of which he is a committee member – criticising proposed amendments to the Firearms Act to tighten legislation on the manufacture of unauthorised firearms or firearms parts.
Now, some Labor members might not agree with Repacholi’s positions, but given the fact that he’s had quite a bit of experience trying to navigate the country’s draconian gun laws, you’d think they’d at least be willing to hear his perspective. What’s really odd about this is that just a couple of years ago Labor worked with the Shooters, Fishers, and Famers Party in New South Wales, much to the consternation of former Prime Minister John Howard, who warned that the country’s gun control laws would be in danger if Labor made election gains.
Two years later and it appears that Labor might ditch Repacholi in favor of a more gun-control friendly candidate, presumably one with a pre-sanitized social media presence. I don’t know what will end up happening with Repacholi’s nomination, but the fact that his candidacy is proving to be so controversial is another sign that while Australia may not have managed to eradicate gun ownership completely, the powers that be are still waging a cultural and political war against all those who dare to do so.