SSAA NSW highlighted the massive cost and ineffective result of John Howard’s gun laws and compulsory buyback on popular ABC program Q and A this month. It was in an effort to drum up sensible discussion around the very real threat of illegal firearms and their criminal use.
SSAA NSW Chief Executive Officer Diana Melham was selected to ask a question of the panel, which comprised musician Jimmy Barnes, Victorian Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, Western Australian Labor MP Anne Aly, former Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer and international counter-terrorism consultant Lydia Khalil.
“References are typically made to John Howard’s gun laws at the time of tragedy, and we saw gun laws become a topic for electioneering at the recent NSW by-elections,” she said. “The government-funded buybacks in 1996 and 2003 cost $700 million. However, research shows these have had no effect in reducing the number of firearm deaths.
“During the recent amnesty, over 26,000 firearms were surrendered by law-abiding citizens, but it’s highly unlikely that career criminals will hand in their illegal firearms during an amnesty. So, what do panel members believe the federal and state governments can do to effectively address the issue of illegal firearms and their criminal use?”
Rather than answer the question, Tim Fischer repeated the same untruths we’ve heard time and again about the “successful” gun laws and said he was “damned if we should have semi-automatics or automatics in the suburbs and towns of this country”.
The conversation quickly spiralled into a tit-for-tat about who wanted to “wind-back” the gun laws. Diana responded with: “I think we need to have a look at some of the bureaucratic over-regulation of law-abiding firearms owners that abide by the very strict gun laws that we have here in Australia. But criminals, by their very nature, don’t abide by the law. So, further restricting firearms laws is not going to get to the real issue of illegal firearms and the criminal use of those firearms to commit gun crime”.
Jimmy Barnes added his two cents about gun culture on television and farmers “not needing” shotguns that can fire “eight shots in eight seconds”. Host Tony Jones did his best to prevent reasonable discussion and Bridget McKenzie was interrupted every time she opened her mouth to say something sensible.
But, eventually SSAA member Bridget McKenzie got an uninterrupted argument out and raised some worthwhile points. She suggested Australia look to Canada and New Zealand’s methods for gun control, which achieved great results in very different ways.
“We’ve got the same historical context, where they don’t have the same sort of mass shootings, etc,” she said. “The way they license and regulate their firearms is that they actually look at the person that’s taking up and do extensive background checks … And then you can go and purchase guns.
“Here in Australia, we register the firearms specifically, and are less, probably, concerned about the person that’s holding it. So, I think there are different ways to have a safe and secure, regulated system that delivers on the outcome we want, which is a safe and secure community, but doesn’t restrict the over 1 million Australians who love to either sporting shoot or hunt.”
For the left-wing media’s take on the program, and to watch the conversation for yourself, click here.