The Australian media was of the major proponents of the extreme firearm restrictions put in place in 1996 after the Port Arthur shooting. Today, despite the fact that the restrictions have been shown to be largely ineffective, the media fight against any attempt at reform.
So the headline of a post today at tenderly.com.au shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone: Gun Law Changes ‘Kick In The Face’ For Port Arthur Survivors:
Australia’s gun laws have long been admired by countries across the world. Following repeated mass shootings in the United States, it was Australia’s response to its worst mass shooting, in Port Arthur, that many have pointed to as a best-practise for dealing with gun crime.
Strict gun laws heavily restricted the sale and use of shotguns and other long arms, and many have since called on America to follow Australia’s lead. But this public praise has not stopped the Tasmanian government from looking to change these very laws.
The Tasmanian government has come under fire for proposed changes to firearm legislation which would widen access to pump-action shotguns and semi-automatic rifles, reforms which police say could breach the landmark National Firearms Agreement.
Australia’s National Firearms Agreement is the framework used by former Prime Minister John Howard to create the extremely strict gun control scheme passed in record time after the shooting. It was a never-let-a-crisis-go-to-waste, all-out emotional push egged on by the unanimous Australian media.
The agreement gutted Australians’ traditional right to self defense, creating an interlocking scheme that made it virtually impossible to legally use a firearm for self defense.
It declared that no one had a right to a gun, that guns would only be allowed to be possessed as a privilege granted by the state. This was in direct in contradiction with an Englishman’s right to arms, which existed at the time the Australian Constitution was signed in 1916. One of the primary stated purposes of the 1996 law was to gun that, declaring that there was no longer a right to own, let alone bear arms.
The 1996 law didn’t stop at firearms. It created a national category of prohibited weapons that include slingshots, crossbows, nunchaku (nun-chucks), side-handled batons, TASERs, telescoping batons, and more. Essentially, Australians aren’t allowed to carry any device that might be used for self defense. Permits to possess these weapons may be issued by the State Commisioner of Police, upon his discretion.
Australia is an incredibly law-abiding country. There is very little crime there, and a very low homicide rate. That’s one of the reasons the extreme gun control law was able to pass. Few felt any need to defend themselves, and voices speaking up for Australians’ right to self defense were ignored, drowned out, or denied a platform.
One of the more draconian aspects of the 1996 law was to require the confiscation of civilian-owned firearms and the loss of a firearms license, for even the smallest breach of the law’s strict firearm storage requirements. The law requires all ammunition be locked up separately from firearms, and that all firearms and ammunition be locked up at all times they are not in actual use.
As the effects of these draconian laws became more apparent, some Australian states began to listen to their voters and to enact reforms to some of the worst aspects of the law. Here are a few:
Longer terms for gun licenses have been enacted
On-line renewal of licensing.
Trained private citizens administer firearms tests for profit instead of wasting police resources that are costly and provide poor service;
Reform of the storage laws to allow civil fines for minor storage breeches.
Tasmania is now considering a number of these reforms, including allowing pump-action shotguns and semi-automatic rifles for those directly involved in pest control, instead of only for farmers.
Proposals from the state’s Liberal government to allow greater access to Category C weapons — which include pump-action shotguns and semi-automatic rifles — for farmers and sports shooters, double the licensing period for gun licenses, and relax some penalties for storage breaches.
The reforms may pass. Which is why we’re now seeing the “kick in the teeth” opinion pieces in the media pushing back against the effort.
(Sam) Lee said Gun Control Australia did not believe measures to better arm farmers were needed.
The laws already allow for farmers to have access to high powered firearms when required, Lee said.
“We’re not asking for the dismantling for what’s occurred already, but this new proposal is about new access for larger numbers of these higher powered firearms,” she said.
“For us, the whole reason for the Port Arthur agreement was limiting access to these high powered firearms… We’re not saying ‘no guns’, but these firearms need to be limited.”
The Liberal party, which had agreed to support the reforms, won the Tasmanian election with a majority. That’s unusual given the complicated Tasmanian election set-up. We will see who controls the Australian state of Tasmania. The Liberal government, or the media.
©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.