Simon Munslow, solicitor, writer and our ‘Loose Cannon’ answers some questions
How long have you been shooting and practicing law for?
I am now in my 48th year in the sport of shooting and hunting and have practiced law for 33 year’s.
What got you into the sport
I have had a lifelong interest in firearms and firearms law, and like a lot of well-behaved children in my age group, I received an air rifle for my 9th birthday, at that time I was also a member of an archery club.
When we moved to Australia, the family acquired a holiday home in the Snowy mountains, and I acquired my first rim fire, a Winchester 320, and my father acquired a Winchester 1200 pump action. My passion for the sport took off from there, and a sizeable number of fox skins, which then fetched good money, contributed to the cost of my legal education.
When did you develop an interest in firearms law?
When I was at University, I first developed an interest in firearms law, and my interest resulted in me writing a thesis on Gun Control.
I have been actively involved in representing shooters ever since, although I got out of private practice for a decade and worked for the Commonwealth Government, in the field of Administrative law. While working for Government, I worked for the Australian Government Solicitor and a couple of regulatory agencies.
This experience with Government, together with my experience in the sport, and knowledge of law and policy enables me to craft some exceptionally good arguments on behalf of clients.
What do you shoot or hunt?
When I lived in Sydney, I used to trap shoot. However, I found that shot gunning was adversely effecting my rifle shooting and stopped. I still own and occasionally use a field shotgun though, and have a BRNO combination gun in .222/12 gauge fitted with a dot sight that I often hunt fox with.
In terms of hunting, I pursue feral game- rabbit, fox, pig, I would like to call myself a deer hunter, but my deer hunting is like my fly fishing. A work in progress.
I have a NSW R licence and a Victorian Game Licence.
What organisations are you in?
SSAA- and a month ago I received my 25th year of membership badge. I am also a former Vice President of an ADA Branch, and a member of the Shooters’ Fishers & Farmers Party.
In my misspent youth, I was very active in the Liberal Party (I did say it was misspent), and my wife and I are active in the overseas adoption community- our son having been adopted from the Philippines.
Where do you live and work?
I live in country NSW, near Queanbeyan, and just across the border from Canberra and the ACT. Prior to moving here. I spent much of my life in the Sydney suburbs of Belrose, Dee Why and Pymble. I have worked as a lawyer in Dee Why, Parramatta, Eastwood and Surry Hills and Bridge street and went to Macquarie University, so I know Sydney quite well.
These days I work from a well-equipped home office and travel as needed. Even allowing for travel, my charges remain competitive with ‘local’ practitioners because I do not have the same overhead structure. I tend to work with local lawyers in respect to the handling of criminal charges and handle the Administrative law appeals to Registries myself.
There is however a difference in approach between that adopted by most criminal lawyers and myself. The focus of a criminal lawyer is to minimise a penalty, whereas I seek to avoid a conviction in the first place, and try, to get a Magistrate or judge to say nice things about my client in summing up, that I can use later when seeking a firearms licence decision.
For this reason, prior to a matter going to Court, I do not just ask that a client obtain references, I also spend considerable time checking them closely, and I will often call a referee and seek to have a matter in a reference clarified by a revised reference if necessary.
With modern technology, I can act efficiently for shooters anywhere in Australia. Infact, I interviewed one shooter on Skype, did legal research over the internet, and prepared winning submissions while staying in accommodation on Gold Beach in Normandy France. These days, a lawyer does not need an ‘Office’, just his or her brain, a phone, a computer and access to a network.
What rifles and chambering do you use?
Here I am very traditional. In terms of ‘keepers’, I shoot the .222 (Like a lot of old timers, I am fond of the .222 and cannot see a justification to ‘upgrade’ to the .223) .30-30, .7x57, and .308.
While I also own a .243, my preference is for a relatively heavy bullet at moderate velocities.
I am also a ‘steel and walnut kind of guy’ and prefer steel and walnut over plastics or alloys, although I must say I have grown fond of a Sauer 101 in .243 that has a synthetic stock.
In terms of firearms I own a pre-64 94 in .30-30 with a scout scope, a Winchester model 70, Krico 600 and Sauer 101.
I also like the .35 Whelen and .350 Rem Mag, but if I buy another Sambar rifle it shall probably be a Tikka T3 Battue or Sauer 101 in 9.3x62 because its ballistics look impressive.
Are there any firearms you regret selling?
Yes, a number. A few stand out.
A rather nice Martini Cadet .256 Win Mag that someone had made into a nice handy ‘Rook Rifle’. I did not reload at the time, and parted with it after I had used up the large volume of ammunition that came with it. It was bought and sold back in the days when I used to pick up the odd firearm from the Trading Post. It was a very classy unit, and carried magnificently in the field.
A 7600-pump action in .35 Whelen, and a Remington model 7 MS in .350 Rem Mag that I had not used for some time but that I now have a need for.
One I particularly liked but was forced to sell was a Valmet Hunter in .308. This was the best wild pig rifle that I have ever owned.
A lot of passion comes across in your writing, and some client’s comment upon this. Where does this come from:
One reason that I am as passionate as I am at representing shooters, is because I hate bullying, and ignorance, and there is a lot of both in the manner that sporting shooters are being treated in Australia.
I also know how I would feel if my licence were under threat. What Howard and his ilk do not understand is that our love of what we do, is not about a ‘gun culture’, but rather it is an age-old thing of hunting forming part of our self-identity.