It seems the Greens in NSW have taken a breather from taking pot shots at one another to go back to doing what they do best. Chasing cheap headlines with little regard for the facts or the civil rights of others.
This time it’s Greens MLC David Shoebridge who has used the tragic accidental shooting death of a little girl in Sydney’s West, to decry gun ownership in general, especially in our suburbs. Shoebridge told media that there was no need for ‘all these guns’ in Sydney and called for our gun laws to be reviewed.
Of course, there were no facts or data to support his policy thought bubble. Just a general South Park Mr Mackey style ‘Guns are bad m’kay’.
The fact is this tragic incident was caused by an illegally held firearm, shortened for concealment – also illegal – stored in a way that was obviously accessible for children; again, illegal. And from that perspective Shoebridge is right. Illegal firearms used in criminal activity should be found and destroyed.
Even the Australian Medical Association has admitted its illegal firearms that are responsible for the vast majority of gun violence. So shouldn’t the efforts of our headline seeking Greens be directed at more resources being directed toward our law enforcement agencies to help curb illegal gun violence?
The reality is NSW and indeed Australia has some of the toughest and efficient gun laws in the world. You can’t firearm without doing a course, passing an exam, submitting to a police check, providing a valid reason for owning a firearm and having the correct storage facility which is a locked safe.
Only property owners in an area deemed to have significant pest problems or registered professional shooters can own self-loading rifles. The rest of us law abiding citizens can only purchase single/double shot, bolt action or lever action firearms with a limited magazine capacity.
The initiatives taken by the Howard government to tighten gun ownership regulations have had an undeniable impact on our society. Gone are the days of $99 Czechoslovakian SKKs and SKSs ‘on sale’ in Sydney gun stores. There has not been a mass murder by a single gunman in this country since 1996.
Naturally, there are a large number of registered shooters in the suburbs of Western Sydney. Because people in Western Sydney are predisposed to owning guns?
No, because that’s where a vast number of people live! A look at the 2016 Census shows that of the top 10 most populous local government areas in NSW, five are located in Western Sydney, including the top two. Of course, there are going to be a large number of people who own firearms in a large population area. There’s also likely to be more registered circus clowns in a large population area and ventriloquists and belly dancers and tarot card readers … and so on.
The simple fact is our gun laws are working as far as regulating who can have legal access to legal firearms. They have done since Prime Minister Howard oversaw their implementation in 1996, resulting in fewer gun deaths from registered firearms. While we cannot afford to see our gun laws watered down, using law-abiding shooters as fodder for political grandstanding is insulting.
Brad Emery is a former Howard government staffer
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