Shots Fired: The War Against Australia’s Gun Laws

I’m genuinely curious to know if I would be outnumbered by an entourage of gun-lovers when I say that I straight up do not like guns. Ideally I would satiate this curiosity of mine by inserting an online poll right here, right now… but that might just start an internet riot. The only place that I personally want to see guns is in a James Bond style movie, on the big screen… The kind of gun that’s just about as tangible as the idea of me scaling up and flipping from a building.

The latest instance in which someone publicly shared a similar opinion about guns wasn’t taken particularly well. Queensland Environment Minister Leeane Enoch posted a petition to Facebook asking for the billboards of a recent pro-gun advertisement for ‘Gun Wolrd’ to be removed. “It does not reflect the kind of community we want to live in – one that is free of guns,” she said. Take a look at these billboards for yourself…

Shortly after this petition was posted, Enoch was met with a plethora of rape and death threats. This is exactly the last thing Australia needs in such a sensitive time period. 31 women have already been murdered this year alone and one in five women (18% or 1.7 million) have now experienced sexual violence. These type of threats really do not help the case of the gun lobbyists who are trying to make hand guns legal for everyday citizens.


So, why so strict Australia?

In case you aren’t familiar (heck, as I british immigrant I’m ashamed to say that I’d never actually heard of it), there was one particular event that altered Australia’s gun laws and relationship with guns forever. This was the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in which 35 innocent people were killed (and 18 seriously wounded) when Martin Bryant took a semi-automatic assault rifle and went on a shooting spree.

Following this, Prime Minister John Howard drastically revised Australia’s gun laws. The National Firearms Program Implementation Act 1996 was introduced alongside strict licensing, shortly followed by the the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998. In this process 43,726 guns were bought from gun owners by the government and destroyed as part of a buyback scheme to rid the country of as many guns as possible.

Here’s a summary of what these Australian gun ownership laws entail:

  • Guns MUST be registered
  • Semi-automatic and automatic guns are banned
  • People need and must maintain a valid, genuine reason for owning a gun such as farming
  • Guns must be locked away separately to ammunition
  • Users must be dubbed “fit and proper”

American ideas ricochet and hit Aus…

If Australian gun lobbyists can gain as much support as America’s National Rifle Association (NRA), we may be in trouble. The Pew Research centre (2017) states that 14 million Americans consider themselves NRA members, with 5 million of those being official members. That’s a lot of influence.

Founder of ‘gunpolicy.org’ and Sydney University’s Philip Alpers said in a recent interview that “at present, the NRA has total control over gun policy in the USA… This will change only when a large majority of Americans reject the NRA’s ideas. That is, not in our lifetimes”.

Will Australia meet a similar fate? Well, there’s a chance. There is a gun lobby group supported by five of Australia’s largest firearm wholesalers that have recently announced their continued intent to intervene in both state and federal elections.

Last year the Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia (SIFA) gave $220 000 towards a $555 460 campaign entitled ‘Flick em’. This was a push from pro-gun groups to force a hung parliament by advising voters to place major parties last. These acts are “all a part of the plan to weaken Australia’s ‘strict’ firearm control laws,” said The Guardian. They want their reforms in and the ‘strict’ legislation out.

We have dodged a bullet there… For now.

Former deputy Prime Minister and leader of the National Party Tim Fischer believes that we are “seeing another wave of the NRA’s indirect influence descending on Australia at the federal and state levels [and] that’s deeply concerning”. So let’s hope we have the pro-gun lobbyists outnumbered.

More Guns in Aus… It’s a No from Me!

I think we can all tell by now that I’m high key biased towards this opinion. Do we really want to be a country that is known for such weapons? Do guns deserve a spot beside our nation’s icons – Steve Irwin, Vegemite and bin chickens… I think not.

When you compare the statistics between gun related violence in Australia and somewhere such as America, the differences in gun ownership laws are evident. There has been 273 mass shootings recorded in America within a year versus our absolute clean slate. Not one single ‘mass shooting’ since 1996.  More guns do not make you safer surprise, surprise.

What Now? Are We turning into Americans?

Despite Clive Palmer’s attempts to Americanize the Australian political landscape… No. No we are not turning into Americans with excessive gun laws. Let’s actually keep Australia great  (never thought I’d agree with Clive Palmer on something other than how great Tim Tams are).

If your rage is now burning like mine (from either perspective of this issue), you can voice these opinions with Senators and Members of Parliament via this link. Otherwise I’m sure there will be another petition soon to hit the web and more votes to come. Let’s just hope they will be met with a more reasonable response.

My next plan of attack is to clear my browser history in an attempt to not get head hunted by the government for the suspicious amount of safari tabs I have open with gun research.

 

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