IN ORANGE we love our food, our wine and our guns.
More than 10,000 guns are registered to people in Orange with another 500 registered in the Cabonne local government area.
With just under 15,000 dwellings in Orange, environmentalist and Orange councillor Neil Jones said he was shocked by the figures obtained from the NSW Firearms Registry by the Central Western Daily, who requested the figures through Orange police.
“I am astounded at these figures and it is hard for me to get my head around why in a place like Orange, which is well known for its parks, gardens and food and wine attractions, so many people would want to own a gun,” Cr Jones said.
“And I also find it very concerning in the light of changes that allow hunting in public parks in places like the Canobolas area.”
Police in the Canobolas Local Area Command are responsible for ongoing firearms safety audits but Inspector Peter Atkins said they had no way of telling how many unregistered firearms there were in the city.
Owner of Bullets and Bits in Orange, Matt Shearim, and his wife Jo, say the figures are attributable to the growth in hunting and shooting as a sport with increasing interest from young woman.
“While a few might come in with their partners we have many young women who aren’t coerced in any way and are just keen to take up shooting,” Jo said.
Mr Shearim said Orange’s top-selling gun was a .22 single shot long rifle, used by competition shooters, followed by the .223 centrefire firearm used for hunting foxes.
“That’s the one we also sell to a lot of farmers,” he said.
Orange Rifle Club secretary Allister Kable said membership was modest with around 12 of the 30-strong membership turning up for regular clay target shoots held on a Saturday.
Mr Kable said he was concerned about the number of recreational shooters using pig dogs in hunting.
“When I was younger dogs were trained to round up the pigs and then we would shoot them with one shot,” he said. “The way dogs now are encouraged to go in and maul the animal I think is extremely cruel.”
Mr Kable believes Australian gun ownership is now well controlled.
“If you drive out of town you don’t see signs riddled with bullet holes or stock in paddocks shot the way you used to,” he said. “I think the new gun laws have got rid of a lot of the hillbillies.”
Mr Shearim said his business was a collection point for unregistered firearms that are handed over to police.
GUNS BY NUMBERS
n There are 10,000 guns registered to the Orange postcode of 2800.
n Cabonne has just under 5000 guns registered to areas that include Canowindra. Molong, Manildra, Cudal, Cumnock and Yeoval.
n Bathurst has 12,206 guns registered to its 2795 postcode with a population similar to Orange.
n Dubbo has 12,932 registered guns.