Murphy's Law: March 16, 2004


While most nations allow their overseas espionage agencies to engage in paramilitary operations (armed agents using force in an intelligence gathering operation), some nations do not. Australia's ASIS (Australian Secret Intelligence Service) agents have been forbidden, for the last two decades, from carrying weapons. The agents were disarmed after a secret 1983 training exercise in a major hotel involving armed agents went embarrassingly  wrong. The agents were noticed and police were called in. The subsequent political fracas led to the agents being disarmed. But the war on terror now often places ASIS agents in dangerous situations, so it was agreed to let them have their guns back. Australia has an anti-gun culture. A law passed in 1996 seized most guns held by citizens and made it illegal to use a legal firearm in self-defense. In the first four years after the law was passed, gun related crimes increased. The criminals could now be reasonably sure that they would not encounter an armed citizen, and began to use their illegal weapons more frequently. So the pendulum is swinging the other way, as least for the ASIS.


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