In recent election cycles, voters have soundly repudiated and defeated anti-gun zealots at the polls in America. Thankfully, the gun ban lobby has an uphill battle in a country grounded in individual freedoms and personal liberty.

Maybe these gun haters would be happier in a place like, say, Indonesia, where gun ownership by the average citizen is completely illegal. It might comfort them to know that mere possession of firearms in that country could lead to the death penalty.

Visiting Australian Chris Packer found out about Indonesia's draconian gun control laws the hard way.

Packer is a 52-year old retired multi-millionaire businessman, champion yachtsman and modern day adventurer. Throughout 2004, he was in the midst of an around-the-world tour with a friend and three crewmembers.

Based on an anonymous tip that he was smuggling heroin and firearms, Packer's yacht was boarded at gunpoint on the 19th of November at a port in Bali. No trace of heroin was found during a search, but authorities did find a "cache of weapons" consisting of two pump action shotguns, a semiautomatic rifle, two pistols and an inoperable antique firearm.

While such a gun collection might be considered modest in rural America, Indonesian authorities were aghast and contemplated the charge of "gun running," a capital offense based on a 1951 "emergency" law enacted to curtail the arming of rebels.

If he is a "gun runner," Packer is most unorthodox, as his firearms were registered with the Australian government and he declared his guns at other ports in Indonesia.

Packer informed the authorities that his "arsenal" was for shooting clay pigeons and self-defense against pirates.

The contention that firearms are a necessary defense against pirates is not as far fetched as one without experience on the open waters might believe. Packer's friend and former America's Cup winner, Sir Peter Blake, was shot and killed by masked pirates who boarded his vessel at the mouth of the Amazon River in 2001.

Upon learning of his friends' fate, Packer delayed his own planned trip to the South American coast specifically to obtain arms for protection.

Packer himself has had his vessel twice boarded by pirates, and he believes he would certainly be dead were he not armed.

After spending the first few days following his arrest in a tiny jail cell in a police station, Packer was transferred to a high security facility. There, he spent 45 days with no daylight in an overcrowded underground holding tank.

Looking visibly malnourished, Packer eventually ended up in a somewhat more humane prison, with he and two other inmates sharing a 13x13 foot cell.

Throughout the ordeal, Packer was never sure he would escape the firing squad.

Finally, on February 18, 2005, authorities decided to try him on the lesser charge of not declaring his firearms upon entering the port.

Found guilty, Packer was sentenced to three months in prison and released with time served.

If three months seems like a tough sentence for the mere possession of firearms, consider that one could be sentenced to five years in prison for simply entering the capital of the free world, Washington, D.C., with a firearm.

Upon his release, Packer exhibited an understandable "thanks, but no thanks" attitude about visiting Bali again. Sounds like an attitude Americans should maintain towards the failed policies of gun banning extremists in our own country.

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