Australian Gun Rights? Yeah Right!
Imagine a far away land where there is no second amendment, where the leader of that land, a conservative no less, is vehemently opposed to guns and makes it his mission to restrict them. This man, the former Prime Minister John Howard would eventually declare that he hates guns and that he admires a lot of things about America but not its gun culture. Of course this wasn’t ever in his election campaign.
What was to happen on April 28, 1996 was to give John Howard his chance to exact his hate of guns, show the mistrust he has for his countrymen and change the face of hunting and shooting in this country forever.
I don’t remember much about the time. I was only twelve, I was too young to care about politics and my interest in hunting and shooting didn’t spike until my later teens. I do remember the Port Arthur Massacre where 35 people were murdered with illegally acquired firearms by a mentally ill man by the name of Martin Bryant.
John Howard and other anti-gunners used this tragedy to pass gun laws that would strip Australian citizen’s of their ability to own or use semi-automatic rimfire, centrefire rifles and shotguns. Of course there were provisions on who could use them… Farmers and professional shooters could own Category C firearms which consist of rimfire semi autos, pump action and semi auto shotguns but if you want a semi-auto centrefire rifle you are dreaming, the only way to own one is to either work for or contract to a government department. There were other things as well such as gun registration, you have to apply to get a “Permit To Acquire”, which is basically a permission slip to buy a gun.
So once these laws were enacted we had a buyback where the government “bought” back all of the now banned guns. This cost this country billions of dollars and studies over the past 15 years have generally found the bans and the buyback to have no real effect. Homicides were already going down and this had been a trend since the early 1900’s in Aus.
This lot of bans were disheartening for many, a lot of people had to watch guns which were family heirlooms be crushed, for others it was just too hard now to own firearms and they pretty much abandoned the sport. Another lot of shooters though decided to use the money from the buyback to buy new, legal bolt and lever action rifles, which I’m sure is not what the government wanted.
By now you are probably thinking one of two things either:
“Wow that is horrible. How could that happen?“
“How much contempt did John Howard have for his citizens?“
I’ll tell you how much contempt he had for us citizens, the firearm restrictions were not over at this stage, not by a long shot.
In 2002 Huan Yun Xiang opened fire in a Monash University classroom. killed two people and injured five others with a handgun. Believe it or not he was acquitted due to mental impairment and is now in psychiatric care.
This shooting prompted our conservative Prime Minister to order another review of firearm laws which was to have another buyback, this time for handguns. The new laws would see handguns over .38 calibre banned (with some exceptions), air pistols would also be treated the same as a 9mm handgun. To get a handgun license you must be a member of a club which includes 6 months of probation before you can buy a handgun. Magazine capacity is arbitrarily capped at 10 rounds.
So there you have it basically we have no gun rights and no protection of this freedom, any government can enact new restrictions at anytime providing it passes through parliament and seeing as both the left and right seem all too happy to restrict and nanny its citizens we are bound to be in for a fight again.
Luckily there is now a party called The Shooters and Fishers Party which is dedicated to fight for our rights as shooters, hunters and fishers. In my state New South Wales, we have two members elected into our legislative council (The State Senate) who have blocked further restrictions and are fighting to repeal some of the more stupid gun laws. Not all states have this and they are coming more and more under fire from anti-gunners so I consider myself lucky that we have elected representatives that’s mission is to fight for us.
My American friends, please don’t rest on your laurels and hide behind the 2nd Amendment. You guys have to be proactive; you all have so much to lose. Yes the political scene is different over there, more people per capita have guns in the US and you guys are protected by your constitution, but let me tell you that if you cease to fight or cease to care the anti’s will win.
Don’t end up like Australia, or worse the UK (handguns are banned). Don’t let the US become a nanny state like Australia is slowly becoming.
Remember in Australia it is a privilege and NOT a right to own firearms.
My name is Keith Drain and I run the Hunt & Shoot Network at www.huntandshoot.com.au