BAN GUNS & PEOPLE WILL MAKE THEM
Orange gun attack brings police warnings on illegal weapons
Friday, 4 February 2005
An image of an 'orange gun' in action - a PVC pipe adapted to fire projectiles using aerosol propellant, with a range of anywhere between 150 metres to 1 kilometre.
Presenter: Steve Martin
Hear from the homeowner whose house was attacked by a fruit-firing weapon and the policeman overseeing the increasing use of these weapons in rural areas.
It sounds slightly comical, but the increasing trend of people constructing guns powered by aerosol propellant firing oranges and other kinds of fruit is causing serious concern within the Victorian Police.
A family living in Colac in Victoria's south west were stunned when oranges fired from one of these weapons in a drive-by attack on their house blasted through their walls and windows recently.
"Incidents involving actual damage to property using one of these guns is quite rare," says Senior Sergeant Dennis Toecock of the Victorian Police Licensing Division. "Orange guns are normally used for a recreational purpose rather than a destructive purpose. They could be lethal if someone was hit at close range, without doubt. These firearms have the capacity to fire up to 150m, if not more, depending on how they're loaded and the nature of the projectile used. They're made of poly-pipe, they've got a combustible gas and a small ignition system in them - they can be made for less than $20."
And what is the primary type of projectile fired from these things?
"Fruit and vegetables. We haved heard reports that people have used cans of baked beans. If someone is hit at close range it could be lethal - and even at further range it could cause injury that is life threatening," he says.
For Colac resident Ricky Janssen, it was a terrifying incident.
"We've come back from the Australia Day celebrations and found windows and weatherboards smashed and glass in our loungeroom. As soon as we got into the loungeroom... right beside the TV was what was left of an orange. The next door neighbour had witnessed a car taking off at high speed and the blast. He thought it must have been the last of the fireworks, then he heard the shatter of glass afterwards," he said.
According to Senior Sergeant Toecock, it is possible to get these kinds of weapons registered, but the great majority are illegal and can attract very heavy penalties.
"Licenses can be issued under certain circumstances for them, but most people don't go down that path, and as a result they face very severe fines. These orange guns - while they're considered toys by most people, they're actually category E firearms, which is our most serious category... a person who possesses these things without a license faces a maximum fine of $60,000 or a jail term of seven years. If you use one of these things in a populous place there's a penalty there for $6,000 or 12 months in jail, and using it in a dangerous manner is a $12,00 fine or 2 years' jail."