Reader John H. writes:
- Bans on semi automatic autoloader handguns
- All firearms in urban areas to be stored in a central respository
- House alarms mandatory for all gun owners
This is inherently true in Australia with Police and military facilities a regular target for criminals. Notable cases of theft include Javelin shoulder-launch missiles stolen from an army base and an incident in 2012 where a lone gunman stormed an Austalian Navy ship in Darwin and stole over a dozen firearms from the ship’s armoury. It appears even the Australian military can’t protect its guns, so how much hope would there be for a citizen equivalent? It should also be noted that thousands of firearms handed in during the infamous 1996 firearms buyback were sold to criminals by contractors hired by the NSW Police to destroy them.
After the Sydney siege in December 2014, Senator Leyonhjelm was attacked for reasonably suggesting that a citizen with a concealed carry firearm might have been able to stop the attack before it started and that due to disarmament laws, Australia had been left as a nation of victims. The gunman, Man Monis, obtained an illegal sawn off Remington 870 and did not hold a firearms license. Monis also had an extensive criminal history and was on parole at the time for accessory to murder.
Australians aren’t permitted to own firearms for self-defence and it remains illegal for citizens to carry any item for self-defence including mace, knives, batons, pepper spray, acoustic anti-personnel devices and tazers. In the state of Victoria, it’s even illegal to carry a Swiss Army Knife. At the conclusion of Senator Leyonhjelm’s appearance the Today Show conducted a poll asking “Should Australians have the right to own a gun?” to which a staggering 97% voted yes. It may be an unscientific poll but it appears the attitudes of the public down under differ greatly from their lawmakers.
Australia’s porous borders means illegal firearms are easily acquired by criminals. Testifying before the Senate Inquiry, Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Julian Slater admitted that the AFP “have no idea what is getting through and we only know about what we intercept. It’s exactly like the drug problem.”Also testifying before the inquiry, the Australian Institute of Criminology, who have been tasked to investigate whether theft of firearms from legal firearms license holders was the main source of illicit forearms used in crime, stated that “of 48,000 legal handguns in the state of Victoria, only 5 have been stolen, representing a total of 0.01%”. this was echoed by Victoria Police who said that the firearms offences in this state.” The AIC and AFP both admitted they had absolutely no data on illegal firearms coming in through the Australia border. The AFP also admitted that they had not even read the AIC’s report on firearm theft.
Australians were forced to hand back many of their firearms in 1996 under the National Firearms Act in response to the Port Arthur Massacre.
The most comprehensive study on the effects of the firearms buyback, a 10 year study published in the British Journal of Criminology by Dr. Samara McPhedran who also testified before the Inquiry, found that the $500 million spent on the NFA had no effect on the homicide rate, which was already declining well before Port Arthur. A further five-year study form the University of Melbourne supports this.
The NFA has also not stopped massacres from occurring in the country with the Monash Shootings in 2002, the Quakers Hill and Childers Palace Backpackers arson attacks, and the deliberately lit Black Saturday bushfires. A woman in Cairns stabbed 8 of her children to death in December 2014. Shockingly, there have been no calls to ban matches or knives.
We will keep an eye on the Senate’s findings when they are delivered on April 9. However, common sense appears to be lacking amongst most of Australia’s lawmakers.