Still coming to terms with the death of her father two years ago, Dayanthi Bonarius continues to face an uphill battle as she campaigns to change the government legislation she believes killed her dad.
In August 2010, Mrs Bonarius’ father was shot dead by her mentally ill sister, Shamin.
“She thought she was living in ‘The Truman Show’ and that my dad was the producer… she thought dad was trying to give her cancer,” Mrs Bonarius said.
“She estranged herself from the family that meant the world to her for three years before it happened.
“She thought if she didn’t see us the delusions would go away and she wouldn’t feel like dad was trying to kill her.”
But the Kingswood resident doesn’t blame her sister; instead she says Shamin and her father are both victims of gun law legislation.
Despite having a mental illness, Shamin, who was 43 at the time, was given access to a gun at the Sydney Pistol Club on August 22, 2010 – it was here that she obtained the training and ammunition she used to kill her father. No background checks were carried out on Shamin, but due to a change in the Firearms Act in 2008, it wasn’t required.
All Shamin had to do was fill in a P650 form and when they asked if she had a mental illness, she simply said no.
The change in legislation came about due to a deal between the former Labor State Government and the Shooters Party, which removed the need to check the background of unlicensed shooters at gun clubs.
“Violence wasn’t in my sister’s nature, Shamin is just as much a victim as my dad,” Mrs Bonarius said.
Last week, the family’s campaign reached a milestone. With more than 12,000 signatures, the family forwarded a petition to the Police Minister, Mike Gallacher – it called for background checks to be reinstated on the Firearms Act.
“You can’t get away with stealing a book from Penrith Library without the buzzers going off, but there was nothing that stopped my mentally ill sister from gaining access to a gun,” an emotional Mrs Bonarius said.
“I believe the politicians of our country have a duty to protect residents, even if that protection is from themselves.”
For more information about the campaign, visit www.change.org/guns.