Conspiracy Theories - The Loose Cannon

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From responses that have been directly sent to my email by shooters, my recent articles on mental health, appear to have resonated very deeply with shooters.  A Facebook friend has also made the timely comment that ‘Mike Baird has lost the plot and has to go’, leading to a response from another, ‘to be careful, because of a recent case involving a shooter making comments about Indonesia’ (he meant Thailand).

Owning a Firearm does not mean that one cannot have views, and express them, sign petitions, be active in political parties and participate in all aspects of citizenship, and the recent Victorian case of Mazur v Firearms Appeals Committee (Review & Regulation) (2016) VCAT 1776 is certainly not an authority for the view that shooters cannot hold views.

Personally, and for the record, I believe John Howard’s acts in taking us to war in Iraq may well constitute a breach international Law, and that this should be further investigated, and if appropriate he should be tried for crimes against humanity, and that as our Prime Minister at the time, he should have command responsibility for any resultant homelessness, deaths and rapes that resulted. This is the standard that we foisted on German politicians at the end of the war, and International Law should not just be as Herman Goering described it ‘victors Justice’.

This is important, because a politician’s trigger finger wrapped around a pen, can kill far more innocent people than even the maddest gun man.

Indeed, it causes me discomfort as a lawyer, as I am a strong believer in due process of law, that we investigate and punish the conduct of soldiers, who may commit a war crime on the battle field, but we do not investigate the decision makers who put them there.

In light of the Chilcott enquiry in the UK, I believe that such a statement is valid, and indeed, similar comments have been expressed in papers such as ‘The Guardian’ and also the alternative media, and by people far better placed than I, such as the Hon Mr Wilkie, now a Tasmanian politician, who was a Commonwealth intelligence analyst at the time, and bravely ‘blew the whistle’ on the lack of valid intelligence.

Having said this, I must confess that the thought of Howard spending the rest of his days banged up in Hess’s old cell in Spandau gaol with the garrulous Tony Blair as a cell mate tickles my sick sense of humour, after what he has done to us.  This would indeed be a cruel and unusual punishment!

Does holding such a view about a former Prime Minister and self-styled ‘elderly Statesman’ make me unsuitable to own a firearm?  Not at all. 

Firstly, I would never do anything to hurt the man, or any other person, and I have the utmost respect for the office he occupied. To injure him is neither my way, nor is it the Australian way.  John Howard once stood before us wearing a ‘flak jacket’, because he was too out of touch with the electorate to realise that the crowd of shooters present, which included many war veterans’ would have torn apart anyone who tried to hurt him.

Secondly, I realise that I have not been privy to all of the material considered by Cabinet, and that the view that I have articulated may be wrong, I would be happy to reconsider it in light of further evidence, and this would be the case if I was on jury hearing a case involving the matter and if I were of this view I would under appropriate circumstances vote for acquittal, i.e. to find him not guilty.

The matter would however be different if I began stalking the man, and started looking toward what could euphemistically be termed extra-judicial action of a terminal nature.

Over the year’s there have been a raft of theories, dealing with such matters as:

The sinking of the Lusitania. Indeed. there is in historical circles today, much speculation that the sinking of the Lusitania in terms of bringing America into the war.  

John F Kennedy.  allegedly shot by a former marine who was a poor shot, using a junk rifle fitted with a low quality after-market scope that had not been shot in on the rifle.  The shot was a rather difficult downhill one that a marksman would understand would call for adjustments in point of aim. The shooter did not.  Nevertheless, the bullet behaved in a rather ‘magical’ fashion that defied the laws of physics.

9/11.  The towers came down in their own foot prints and visible puffs can be seen on footage suggesting that the buildings had been wired with demolition charges.  The third tower, which had not been hit by an airliner, collapsed in an identical fashion after orders were given to ‘Pull it’. 

The damage to the Pentagon, and relative lack of burning from engine fuel, suggests to some that the damage may have been done by something other than an airliner, perhaps a missile of some sort. There is a lack of footage from Pentagon security cameras that could help clarify this situation.

Port Arthur.  The shooter had a limited history with firearms, yet delivered a performance that few Close Quarter Battle trained special forces troops could emulate.  Suggesting to some minds that, either he was an idiot savant, or there was something else going on. 

Further speculation was fed by the source of one rifle which had been surrendered in Victoria and the refusal of the Government to have an autopsy, a normal event in such circumstances.

Unfortunately though, when there is an enquiry, it does not necessarily assist.  The Warren Enquiry into the death of JFK had, I believe, as much to do with healing an America torn apart by the murder of a President as finding the truth, and it glossed over some areas, and these leave open areas of speculation and enquiry.

Another example in respect to the twin towers, was the public release of a huge volume of documents relating to the incident has done little to quell theories, and indeed there is an organisation formed by over a thousand architects in the United States, that is of the view that the towers could not have been destroyed by jet fuel. Are these people mad? 

Such beliefs are common place, and one only has to look at the popularity of shows such as the ‘X- Files’ and an entire genre of films, to realise the extent to which belief’s in conspiracies are widely held within the community.

Are people who subscribe to these theories crazy?  Some possibly are. Most I believe are not.

Indeed, as a Lawyer and graduate in Politics and History, I believe It would involve a certain level of naiveté, to believe that lines are not from time to time crossed by representatives of Government.

If one wants some proof illegal activity, one only has to look at the Iran Contra debacle and Watergate, which has been widely reported, clearly show that lines ARE crossed from by government from time to time or by corporations and government- witness the murder of Salvador Allende in Chile by American interests.

However, I do not have enough information about any of the above conspiracies to comment, but note that the development of a ‘reasonable hypothesis’ related to events such as those reported above often forms the basis for valuable historical study and for the work of investigative reporters.

To deny people who do not believe 100% in the establishment view about events places one in the same position where, the only person who is a fit and proper person to own a firearms licence believes in the establishment view of the world, which was essentially the position that existed in National Socialist Germany.

The difficulty is, some mentally ill people, particularly those suffering from Paranoia disorders who believe theories to be the truth, and not a hypothesis, and they their mind takes the next step and often involves themselves in the events.

Many irrationally believe in events without there being any evidence or material at all to substantiate their position and they remain unwilling to reconsider this position even in light of conclusive evidence.

In the Mazur decision Mr Mazur sent a number of emails to the Thai consulate, the Consulate advised the AFP, he was not charged with an offence.  Mr Mazur submitted that freedom of speech is important in this country.  The Tribunal agreed, and said ‘While Mr Mazur’s views may distress or cause some in the community to feel threatened, Australia is a democracy and people are allowed to hold opinions and views that others might agree with or others go too far’.

"I cannot ignore that there is an inherent unlikelihood that what Mr Mazur believes to be true is in fact true, and there is a real possibility that there has is some mental illness there that has not been recognised or diagnosed.  In this context the purpose of the act which is to ensure public safety and peace is a consideration’.

Mr Mazur did not provide any psychiatric evidence to substantiate his mental health, and unfortunately the decision did not articulate the views expressed by Mr Mazur, which would enable the reader to understand how extreme they are.

Should all people who believe in a conspiracy need to undergo Psychiatric analysis?  The decision does not say that.  Here it is dealing with an extreme view that appears irrational and unsupported by any evidence that involved a threat level that, while it did not give rise to a direct threat to the Thai Consulate, led to a report to the AFP.

Can one discuss these conspiracies without being arrested, yes, of course you can, and I have just written this article to prove it (although I suspect my ASIO file might have just got a few pages thicker!).

Simon Munslow

Simon Munslow is a solicitor located on the ACT/ NSW border.  He has a lifelong interest in shooting, having acquired his first firearm at the age of nine, and has had an active interest in firearms law since writing a thesis on the topic over thirty years ago at University

Simon Munslow practices extensively in Firearms Law matters throughout Australia. 

He is a regular contributor to the Australian Sporting Shooter magazine’s website on Firearms law matters, has published articles on firearms reviews and firearms law, and occasionally is asked to comment in the broader media on firearms matters.

He either appears in person, or ‘stage manages’ the conduct of matters that he arranges to be handled by local lawyers who often are not familiar with firearms law and procedure.

This article is written for general information only and does not constitute advice. 

 

Simon Munslow

National Firearms Lawyer

P: (02) 6299 9690

F: (02) 6299 9836

E: solicitor@bigpond.com

W: firearmslawyer.com.au

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