I think there is a place for guns on farms, and I don't think we should avoid talking about it. I also think that our current gun laws are necessarily restrictive. I don’t think owning a gun is a right, it is a privilege for those who can demonstrate a genuine need and capability. But we need more education, rather than trying to hide guns away.
Putting down cattle
We originally decided to start the process to get a gun license because we were worried that we would have to put down cattle at the start of the drought. At the time, so many people were sending cattle to the sales, that some cattle were being turned away. We realized that if our cattle got too weak, we might not be able to sell them. Fortunately we were able to sell the cows before it came to that, and cattle numbers are now so low, the market is great if you have anything to sell. The sad fact is that many farmers have had to shoot their animals.
Controlling predators and feral animals
The other reason we thought we might need a gun is to control the wild dogs and pigs we know live on our property. They live in the bush areas, and while they are not a problem at the moment, they could kill calves, and make it difficult for us to keep our own pigs.
Butchering large animals
So far we have always had a butcher come to our property to kill our cattle for beef, but we butcher the chickens ourselves. Anything larger than poultry is best killed with a gun. You can slit the throat of a lamb or a goat, but it would not be pleasant. As I said above, a gunshot is quick and the animal doesn’t know what happened. Eventually we would like to butcher our own beef, and to do this we need a gun. Some more remote properties would do this regularly just to feed the people living on the property.
I learnt to shoot in highschool when I joined the small-bore rifle shooting club. I never owned a gun then, or had a license, I borrowed a gun from the club and only shot on club days or at competitions. Over a couple of years I learnt to shoot at small targets about 100 metres away, lying down in “prone” position. I went to the club once a week and saw my aim gradually improve. This was a really good way to learn, on a small rifle, the techniques required to aim and hit a target, and all the safety requirement. I think I learnt more from that experience than the gun license course, which was more of a refresher for me (all the others in the course were from rural backgrounds and already knew how to use a gun). We need to put more time into target shooting now that we own a gun, so that we maintain that ability.
|Taz is scared of the gun...|
I’m not saying that every farm needs a gun, but I do think that you should consider if you might need one for the above reasons. You might be able to rely on neighbours, but I don’t like to be in that position all the time. I think that it pays to learn how to shoot and be confident around guns, even if you don’t need to own one, its certainly a skill I didn’t know I was going to use again!