AUSTRALIANS may pride themselves on “telling it like it is”, but when it comes to gun laws, straight-shooting all too often takes a back seat to a determined effort at silencing debate.
Twenty years ago a deranged individual murdered 35 people at Port Arthur using firearms. In response, Australia passed some of the most restrictive gun laws in the western world. These included bans on self-loading rifles and shotguns, and pump-action shotguns, plus a taxpayer- funded gun confiscation program costing over a billion dollars. All legally owned firearms are now registered, costing the states tens of millions of dollars a year to manage.
For that price, any civilised liberal democracy should expect to have a decent debate about the efficacy of its policies. Instead, all we hear are anti-gun activists telling the rest of the world that Australia’s model of firearms management has been a resounding success. “We saved lives!” they claim. “We stopped mass shootings!” they say.
The fact is, serious debate about gun laws has been all but silenced. Not a single inquiry or inquest was ever held into the Port Arthur massacre, unlike the two inquiries and one inquest into the Lindt Café siege in which two innocent people died.
Simplistic comparisons are drawn with the US, which has periodic massacres, with more relaxed gun laws blamed. We hear it said repeatedly that there have been no mass shootings in Australia since 1996, which supposedly demonstrates the effectiveness of our gun laws.
The truth is quite different. There have been eight shootings in Australia with three or more victims during that time.
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