Reader JH writes:
Australian firearms owners scored a resounding victory in response to a Senate Inquiry that attempted to place blame on them for a perceived increase in firearms crime as we reported last week. The Senate Committee report entitled, “Ability of Australian law enforcement authorities to eliminate gun-related violence in the community,” initiated and chaired by Australian Greens Senator Penny Wright last October after a siege in Adelaide, unanimously found that . . .
“1.158 Claims made in the media by the Chair, which The majority of Senators attending the inquiry believe are not substantiated by the evidence, include:
• most illegal guns are not trafficked into Australia, but stolen from registered owners;151 and
• many illicit firearms are actually stolen from legitimate sources or taken from the grey market, including the gun used in the Sydney siege.152
1.159 The hypothesis that illegal guns are mainly stolen from registered gun owners was not supported by the evidence presented to the Committee.”
The report went on:
“1.155 No case was made to the committee for any increased regulation around gun ownership laws. In particular there was no evidence to show that:
• banning semi-automatic handguns would have any material effect on the number of illegally held firearms in Australia;
• stricter storage requirements and the use of electronic alarm systems for guns stored in homes would have any impact on gun-related violence; and
• anomalies in federal, state and territory laws regarding the ownership, sale, storage and transit across state boundaries of legal firearms has any material impact on gun-related violence in the community.”
Of the eight committee members, six agreed to the findings with only Ian McDonald and Senator Wright objecting.
The committee heard evidence from a range of sources including Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Victoria Police, New South Wales Police, Australian Federal Police, Australian Institute of Criminology, leading Australian criminologist Dr Samara McPhedran, Sporting Shooters Association Australia, John R Lott Jr and the Attorney General’s Department. The committee also received over 400 submissions from the public and numerous organisations, the overwhelming majority from firearms owners.
A day after the final report was released, Senator Wright took to radio to spout the usual claim that the “Senate inquiry had been hijacked by the gun lobby” and made sure to invoke that bogeyman term as much as she could.
Who is this Australian gun lobby? Hardly anyone it seems. Firearms owners in Australia are currently represented by a loose collection of sporting, hunting and collecting organizations, the largest of these being Sporting Shooters Australia, who are funded by their own members. The National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America do not have chapters in Australia last time we checked. Compare this with the monetary and political clout of Gun Control Australia and the bias becomes obvious.
The committee also heard testimony from renowned gun grabber Roland Browne of Gun Control Australia. This organisation, which has never released the records of just who it’s members and donors are, but somehow manage to receive more airtime than pro gun groups, were soundly rebutted by Senator McKenzie in a memorable exchange. Gun Control Australia were also at the center of controversy last year, when it tried to claim that a woman in Sydney who killed her father in 2010 did so by buying an automatic handgun (which are illegal in Australia) without a license at a firearms dealer.
The first ten seconds of their own video release (which was promptly pulled), clearly showed the factually correct account that she stole the semi-automatic pistol from the pistol club she was a member of. A glimpse of the response on their facebook page, (523 members, 522 of them firearms owners) tells the story. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot. It’s clear that Gun Control Australia are that bad at lying that even Penny Wright can’t save them.
In perhaps the pick of the action, Wright took to her own facebook page on 10 April and again on 13 April, to try and claim she was never targeting legal gun owners even though the Greens Policy page says otherwise. Wright even tried to individually respond to the Facebook comments, some of her responses have to be seen to be believed for their ridiculousness.
Not surprisingly, the report also churned a number of biased hit pieces in response. The pick of these, being this blatantly misleading effort from “The Saturday Paper” writer Debra Jopson.
Among the most laughable claims:
Ms Jopson also states: “Hundreds of hunters and shooters sent individual missives into the inquiry’s inbox, as their peak bodies urged them to impress with sheer weight of numbers.”
Yes, how dare they exercise their rights to object. Also:
“Wright had to settle for a majority report written with Labor’s Joe Ludwig, Catryna Bilyk and Jacinta Collins, knowing that the two Liberals would produce their own dissenting version.”
Senator Joe Ludwig was the only other Senator to put his name to the report. Because two out of eight equals anmajority, right? A simple Google search of “Debra Jopson Greens” reveals not one but four articles spruiking Greens initiatives and writing for the Green Left weekly. Hardly a conflict of interest.
On a positive note, the report recommended:
1.224 The majority of Senators attending the inquiry recommend the Commonwealth review its contribution to firearms regulation in the context of the Reform of the Federation White Paper.
1.225 The majority of Senators attending the inquiry recommend State and territory governments investigate avenues to decrease regulation of the firearm industry to ease the economic burden on governments, industry and legal firearm users.
Mr David Hawker, who also gave evidence before the committee, suggested Australia move to New Zealand style gun laws. We can only hope this generates momentum for some much needed firearms reform and common sense in Australia.
Our kudos to Senator David Leyonhjelm and Senator Bridget McKenzie, both lifelong shooters and firearms owners, for standing up for Australian firearms owners. And kudos to Australian firearms owners for standing up for their own rights.
And we recommend Senator Penny Wright get some counselling. Or at least some tissues. Or her facts straight.