Tell me all you know about guns

Tell me all you know about guns

I have written the bare bones of my book started in a seaside Maltese cafe in April after noticing a weathered forty something year old ordering Australian wine each day.

It has grown legs and walked into the ideas I had for my ‘great novel‘.

I’m still going back and forward making subtle and not so subtle changes so it flows, makes sense.
I love this phase of the book – the research. Putting meat on the bones, to make it authentic. Fact checking and interviewing on-the-ground experts about different facets of the book – how Australian Wine was regarded in Europe in 1996 and 2012, the music industry in Malta, backpacking in Australia in the 1990s and what kind of a gun can shoot a driver through the back of a ute.
Today I met with a solicitor and a station owner (large remote property not a railway station) to ask about guns and death inquests. In my story a young backpacker has shot his girlfriend while they were out spotlighting (ie shooting kangaroos) with a station owner who employed them on his property.
This part of the book is set in the mid 1990’s and it is a very interesting period of Australian history when it comes to guns. I want to know the details of gun licences, liabilities and responsibilities prior to and after the famous and fabulous gun buy back.
Soon after the dreadful Port Arthur massacre in 1996,  the then Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, did one of the very few good things he was to do under his eleven year Liberal Party rule. He showed decisive and inspiring leadership, after surveys showed that up to 85% of Australians supported gun control, by introducing the National Firearms Agreement. “We will find any means we can to further restrict them because I hate guns… ordinary citizens should not have weapons. We do not want the American disease imported into Australia.”
All states and territories of Australia banned and heavily restricted the legal ownership and use of self-loading rifles, self-loading and pump-action shotguns, and heavily tightened controls on their legal use. The government initiated a “buy-back” scheme with the owners paid according to a table of valuations resulting in over 643,000 firearms handed in at a cost of $350 million.

But I digress. What I want to know for my story is:
1) How plausible is the death and consequent aftermath I have written. Could an inexperienced young person be responsibly given a gun by a station owner? Is the way the gun went off possible? What kind of a gun would he be using for it to go through the back of a ute and kill the driver?
2) Different scenarios about legalities, consequences of the death before and after the changes in gun laws in 1996. What would be the consequences legally?

I spoke to a solicitor asking about the legalities. Would there be charges against the station owner, how would the inquest play out?

Today, the station owner’s wife came as well and when I talked about moving the body while they waited hours for the outback police to arrive or what would they do while they waited through the night. She had wonderful insights into these behaviours. Should the shattered body be transferred to the back of the ute or moved over to the passenger seat on the journey back to the homestead. Even to the point of leaving the body in the car and covering it with a sheet. The husband added that he would cover the whole car with a tarp until the police arrived.

We shared other stories of similar deaths. One where the ute driver was killed by a gun that was in the back of the ute and most likely activated by the dog. Another of a man who from the back of a ute accidently shot his girlfriend who was driving and his consequent decent into hell and alcoholism. Or of the man who killed a hitchhiker for flirting with his girlfriend, went to goal for ten years, visited the solicitor upon release to give him a book of poetry he had written in goal and was incinerated in a truck accident a week later.

All great fodder for my book. But don’t get me wrong it’s not all guns, murder and bloody deaths; I just finished a pretty raunchy sex scene…. oh dear…it involved blood!

Image credit: Spencer Fornaciari,Wake in Fright 
Written by Helen Healy