At the heart of Thursday morning's bikie raids in Victoria is a fairly simple goal: to stop members of the public being killed by high-powered weapons.
Police fear that a recently-declared war between the Hells Angels and the Comancheros could cost innocent lives.
Although both clubs have confined themselves to shooting up clubhouses and bikie-owned businesses in the early hours of the morning - interspersed with the odd bashing - the risk of a stray machine gun bullet hitting an innocent bystander is very real.
The days when bikies battled each other in the shadows, away from the prying eyes of the police and public, are gone. And so too are the days when the police effectively ignored the danger they posed.
The world of outlaw motorcycle gangs is a murky one. Although there are longstanding ties between some clubs, alliances and feuds come and go, based on personal slights, money or disputes between clubs in other states.
Earlier this year, police warned of an all-out war between the Hells Angels and the Bandidos, going so far as to warn every Victoria Police member to exercise extreme caution when pulling over bikies from either gang.
That conflict stemmed from a second attempt on the life of feared Bandidos enforcer Toby Mitchell. The former kickboxer was lucky to escape with minor injuries after a wild gun battle at an industrial estate in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, an event some police say had the potential to be Victoria's 'Milperra massacre'.
Six months later, and tensions are high again. In the last fortnight, a Dandenong tattoo parlour and a Hallam gym, both owned by prominent Comancheros, were shot up, as was a Hells Angels clubhouse in Seaford.
Other properties in Dandenong and Clayton - linked to the Rock Machine club and the Bandidos - were sprayed with shots from "military-style" weapons. Police arrested 10 men linked to the Hells Angels and the Comancheros, charging them with drugs, weapons and extortion offences.
The investigation into an alleged extortion racket by Comancheros members was already well under way before the recent shootings upped the ante and forced police to make arrests.
In an example of how bikies have spread their influence within 'normal' society, it is alleged they were 'buying' the debts of people who declare bankruptcy, and forcing them to repay the money anyway.
The reason for the latest explosion of violence appears to be a simple one: the Hells Angels consider themselves to be the world's pre-eminent outlaw motorcycle gang, and have decided the other clubs need to be taught a lesson.
Within that general framework, there are a number of other elements. The Mornington Peninsula has long been a quiet area for bikie activity, compared to the northern and western suburbs, but the establishment of the Hells Angels' 'Darkside' chapter in Seaford antagonised the Comancheros, who are strong in the nearby outer-eastern suburbs.
The Hells Angels are also determined to stamp out the Rock Machine, which is strong in Perth, but has only recently begun to make inroads in Victoria. Hells Angels have reportedly been visiting pubs in regional Victoria looking for Rock Machine members to bash.
The enmity between the Hells Angels and the Rock Machine actually has its genesis in Canada, where a war between the clubs in Quebec in the 1990s cost more than 150 lives.
In a example of what Victoria Police fear could happen here, an 11-year-old boy was killed by shrapnel from a car bomb while playing in a Montreal street. The resulting public outcry forced police to act against the warring clubs.
Members of the Rock Machine have the license for a Fitzroy bar, and have applied for licenses for other bars and nightclubs, but are being opposed by police.
There is also change within the Comancheros, with former state president Jay Malkoun spending an extended period of time in Dubai and handing the reins to Mick Murray.
Murray is considered to be more aggressive and unpredictable than Malkoun, who, while a convicted heroin trafficker and former kickboxer, is outwardly more urbane and conciliatory.
The upper echelons of Victoria Police spent years ignoring the growing threat posed by outlaw motorcycle gangs, but there is no doubt now in force command that they pose one of the greatest threats to the community.
All four major clubs - the Rebels, Bandidos, Comancheros and Hells Angels - are actively recruiting and opening new chapters across the state as they struggle for supremacy. The new breed of bikies, with their shaven heads, facial tattoos, pumped up physiques and limited knowledge of motorcycles, are brutal, unpredictable and drawn from ethnic groups 'old school' bikies would have shunned.
The State Government has given Victoria Police a suite of laws to tackle bikie gangs - including anti-fortification and anti-association legislation - and police are currently working out the most effective way of using them.
But today was about keeping the public safe in the short term, and the effectiveness of the raids will be measured by the weapons and ammunition taken from the hands of bikies.