The Trains’ Shooting Had Deep Roots

Coverage of the QLD shooting by Gareth Train, his wife Stacey and his brother Nathaniel has focused on the latter. The Daily Telegraph painted a picture of a formerly “dedicated” NSW principal who struggled with his mental health and “unhappiness with the education system.” The feature was complete with Train wearing a Santa hat and jingle bells. This is of course a classic trope used to describe white shooters.

Gareth has also been assumed to have “slid into” conspiracy theorising in recent years, with the wave of alt-right “freedom” rhetoric that followed pandemic lock-downs.

Yet according to Tom Tanuki, who studies sovereign citizen networks, Gareth’s rhetoric showed him to be a decades-long conspiracist.

“Been there and done the research in the 90s,” Train wrote in a comments thread uncovered by Tanuki. “Nobody was interested then.”

“Sovereign citizens” reject the jurisdiction of the government by building on arcane pseudo-legal claims about “common law.” The term featured in Gareth’s online presence. 

Sovereign citizens have historically used this to dispute fines and taxes, but their claims became more popular during lock-down. The infamous Eve Black read from a sovereign citizen factsheet when she illegally crossed the NSW-Victoria border in 2020.

Gareth’s online claims include that ASIO is run by Jesuit agents, who cannot even be named upon pain of disappearance. He referred to “the Jesuit Order cabal (aka CIA).”

These guys apparently invented the internet in order to control us. He claimed that 5G is subliminally programming us to hear “the voice of Allah.”

He also says that “CCP troops” man the border between the US and Canada and have done for 20 years. They’re in Australia too, “controlling ports and airfields.” 

“This is an old-school conspiracist,” says Tanuki. “He didn’t just jump on board like most of the cookers” radicalised during the pandemic.

In this light, the Trains’ shooting looks more like an escalation of what happened at Old Parliament House a year ago, where sovereign citizens used the cover of a smoking ceremony to set fire to the building.

When one arsonist appeared in court, reported The Guardian at the time, “a woman purporting to be from ‘the sovereign nation of Terra Australis’ applied to represent the man in court but was denied.”

The interior of Old Parliament House / Museum of Australian Democracy after the fire.

Old Parliament House has a special place for the sovereign citizens. Many of this diverse bunch believe that when Australian parliament moved to the current parliament house, that marked the moment when “common law” was overthrown by “corporate law.” Thus the government is said to be illegitimate, imposed by Jesuits and “bankers”…

So the Trains were not just lone wingnuts, but borne of a loose coalition that nurtures their nuttery.

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