The natural right to act in self-defence in response to the unprovoked attacker is universal.
In countries where the Government permit their citizens to have a capacity for self-defence, there is a guideline called the Use of Force Continuum. The force continuum is a standard that provides law enforcement officers and civilians with guidance as to how much force is reasonable against someone that is resisting in a given situation. As a guide, the information is open to interpretation due to its subjectiveness. However, without any guidance, actions become arbitrary and without any specific criterion or restraint, the probability of excessive force increases.
In the past, there was no Australian legislation that prohibited a citizen from having a capacity for self-defence—Conjecturally common throughout the land a farmer had a rifle for personal protection because the farmer and family lived in a remote area and the police were not readily available in the event of an armed intruder. That has changed over the past few decade and today prohibition laws exist. The armed intruder is still a concern for those living in country areas where the police may be hour or hours away.
An example of this is the following extract from a letter to an Australian farmer from the police in New South Wales: “It is important that you understand that the legislation prohibits you from possessing or using a firearm for the purpose of personal protection” (NSW Police reference no. 1110 53032/IR:SG).
Apart from media stories like the one above the primary source of information for Australian citizens comes from court reporters after an event. The parable of the Good Samaritan is sometimes headlined, “Good Samaritan Charged by Police” and perhaps excess force was used, maybe it wasn’t, and sometimes as in the case of Caitlyn Gray vindicated and the alleger charged with contempt of court for fabricating evidence.
An element of the Preservation of Life – Community Protection Bill is “Circle of Force”. It is similar to the Use of Force Continuum. However, the guide is not about how much force is reasonable against someone that is resisting. It is about how much force and what method is sensible against someone that is attacking you given the situation.
The “Circle of Force” options are firstly voice, open-hand, secondly, expendable baton, baton, pepper spray, mace spray; thirdly, taser, long-arm beanbag and salt rounds; and lastly, the firearm. For information about the Circle of Force Training Manual, please return to this page at a later date.