A small Melbourne company is manufacturing semi-automatic rifles identical to the one used in the recent primary school massacre at Sandy Hook in the US.
The company legally makes and sells AR-15 semi-automatic rifles to licensed buyers for close to $9000 each and has so far built three dozen of the weapons, The Age newspaper reports.
Australia's strict importation laws on guns has created local demand for the weapons by professional hunters and the local film industry which needs real weapons to fire blanks.
The AR-15 is the civilian version of the M-16, which was originally designed for the US military.
The assault-style rifle has been the weapon of choice used in many recent US massacres.
In December, Adam Lanza used an AR-15 to kill 20 children, six teachers, his mother and himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
An AR-15 was also one of the guns used by James Holmes to kill 12 people in July at the Batman film premiere massacre.
The owner of the Melbourne company producing the weapons, who did not want the name of the business revealed for security reasons, said it was not fair to compare the situation in Australia with that of the US.
''The licences aren't just issued to anyone here. There's no comparison with the United States,'' the owner said.
''It's inflammatory to link [the recent massacres] with this, to say they shouldn't be made here at all. They are made for a purpose and they are not sold to the public."
''We are the quiet minority, we just go about our business and it's very frustrating to be constantly up against it.''
The company originally began producing the rifles as props for the film industry as local restrictions meant that imported weapons used to make movies needed to be destroyed or re-exported after production ended.
Guns produced in Australia do not have to be destroyed after filming finishes.
''It's just unworkable for any small production like Rush or Underbelly … to bring weapons in,'' the owner said.
''Either the budgets aren't there, or they're too small.''
Source: The Age
Author: Emily O'Keefe, Approving Editor: Mark Worley