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Locked guitar straps have become the latest casualty in Australia’s gun laws, with the government announcing on Wednesday it would ban the practice after a spate of deaths linked to them.
Guitar straps, which are often used for lockers or dressing rooms, were found to be among the most common ways of committing suicide in Australia in the past three years, the government said.
“We will be announcing measures to restrict the availability of locking straps,” Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said in a statement.
“The number of reported suicides linked to locking straps has been increasing in recent months, and is the highest in recent memory,” he said.
The measures include a ban on the sale of locking belts and the use of straps with “metal, plastic or plasticised” parts.
But there are concerns that locking straps could be used to conceal weapons, or as a way of making it harder to identify people.
“Locking straps can be used as an easy way to conceal firearms, especially those that are loaded,” a spokesperson for the Australian Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research said.
“We are aware that a small number of people have used locking straps to conceal their weapons.”‘
Weird’ ban not just a matter of locking the straps but also of locking their batteriesSource: Al JazeeraEnglish/YouTubeLockers are not the only way of committing a suicide.
“There are some odd things that are associated with locking the strap,” an unnamed police officer told ABC radio station Radio National.
“It could be the fact that you are locking it with a strap that is really long and then you are just walking up to the person, putting your hands on the back of their neck, and you are saying, ‘No, I don’t want to do this’.”
“It’s also weird, that when you are sitting down and you look down and there is a gun there, there is no way that you would see that,” he added.
“I have heard from officers who have had the straps on their head tied up.”
Police have also been known to remove the straps from their victims’ hands before killing them.
“Sometimes, the guns themselves are the cause of it,” an officer told the ABC.
“You can actually get the gun, you can remove the strap and then put the gun back on and that can be a really dangerous situation.”
The ABC contacted the Australian Federal Police, but a spokesperson said the agency did not comment on ongoing investigations.
“This matter is now before the courts and it’s up to them to decide whether or not they wish to take action,” a spokeswoman said.
Police have found that many suicides involving the use or sale of a locking strap were linked to mental health issues, the spokesperson added.
The spokesperson also said there was no evidence that locking a strap would prevent people from committing suicide.”[We’re] not saying that we’re not going to do something about it, but we don’t think there is any way to prevent people committing suicide because we’re going to lock them,” she said.’
Troubled young man’ who died from hanging on locking strap’In December, a 17-year-old student from Perth who committed suicide by hanging himself in his locked room was found by police to have been struggling with mental health problems.
The teenager had been living in a home with a number of women, including a friend who was also a student, according to the Coroner.
“He had been distressed and was very distressed about being locked in his room and about being told that he had to do it,” coroner Paul Kelly told the Perth Mercury newspaper.
“That is something that we will certainly be looking at and that is why we’re now looking at this as a case of attempted suicide.”
According to the Mercury, the teenager had struggled with depression and was “troubled” by a suicide attempt.
The coroner said the teenager was likely to have suffered a mental health problem for at least three years prior to his death, but did not provide details.