Much ado about noth­ing

Rick Brown, CPI Strate­gic di­rec­tor and ad­viser to Field & Game Aus­tralia and the Aus­tralian Deer As­so­ci­a­tion, writes that the firearm fear­mon­ger­ing in the last days of the re­cent Tas­ma­nian elec­tion was a typ­i­cal re­sponse.

Field and Game - - FIREARM DEBATE -

The brouhaha over the Tas­ma­nian Gov­ern­ment’s com­mit­ment to mod­i­fy­ing the state’s gun laws is a clas­sic ex­am­ple of the cyn­i­cal ex­ploita­tion of ig­no­rance.

There has been lit­tle, if any, de­tail­ing of the pro­posed changes, let alone dis­pas­sion­ate anal­y­sis of them.

In­stead clichés play­ing to emo­tion has passed for anal­y­sis.

Fed­eral leader Bill Shorten is the lat­est to tip his toe into this pool of cyn­i­cism. He has grand­standed by writ­ing to the Prime Min­is­ter call­ing on him to con­duct an im­me­di­ate re­view of the pro­pos­als and to de­mand that the Tas­ma­nian Gov­ern­ment break its com­mit­ment if the pro­pos­als breach the Na­tional Firearms Agree­ment (NFA).

It seems that Mr Shorten wants to stomp on: • ex­tend­ing the li­censes of those

firearms clas­si­fied as Cat­e­gory A or B in the 1996 NFA (air ri­fles; rim­fire ri­fles (ex­clud­ing self-load­ing), sin­gle and dou­ble bar­rel shot­guns, muz­zleload­ing firearms, sin­gle shot, dou­ble bar­rel and re­peat­ing cen­tre fire ri­fles and break ac­tion shot­guns/ ri­fle com­bi­na­tions) from five years to pe­ri­ods up to 10 years and from one to two years for a Cat­e­gory C agent or con­trac­tor of a pri­mary pro­ducer in or­der to stag­ger the an­nual re­newal process and re­move red tape; • ex­tend­ing the num­ber of recre­ational shoot­ing or­gan­i­sa­tions to which com­pe­ti­tion clay tar­get shoot­ers wish­ing to use semi-au­to­matic shot­guns must be­long to more than one; and, • is­su­ing in­fringe­ment no­tices rather than a sum­mons for rel­a­tively mi­nor breaches of stor­age laws, and not re­mov­ing firearms as a re­sult if the con­tra­ven­tion is rec­ti­fied with­out de­lay. Mr Shorten’s grand­stand­ing also takes ad­van­tage of the fact that few vot­ers know the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment can­not en­force the NFA. In June last year the-then Min­is­ter for Jus­tice, Michael Keenan, told the mem­bers of the Firearms In­dus­try Ref­er­ence Group that: “Ir­re­spec­tive of the lan­guage used in the up­dated (Na­tional Firearms) Agree­ment, the up­dated Agree­ment is not legally bind­ing upon ju­ris­dic­tions. It re­mains up to the states and ter­ri­to­ries to de­ter­mine how they will reg­u­late firearms in ac­cor­dance with the up­dated Agree­ment.”

In a let­ter to the Queens­land Firearms Deal­ers As­so­ci­a­tion in April last year he was even blunter:

“The use of the word ‘must’ does not make the Agree­ment as a whole (or any part of it) legally bind­ing and it re­mains up to the states and ter­ri­to­ries to de­ter­mine how they will reg­u­late firearms in ac­cor­dance with the up­dated Agree­ment.”

Mr Shorten has not been the only par­tic­i­pant in this ex­er­cise of cyn­i­cal grand­stand­ing. Apart from the usual rent-a-crowd, he kept com­pany with what ap­pears to be the crowd’s hon­orary pa­tron, for­mer Prime Min­is­ter John Howard.

The Week­end Aus­tralian (March 10–11, 2018) re­ported that Mr Howard was sid­ing with gun con­trol cam­paign­ers and that he “is to­tally op­posed to any al­ter­ation or weak­en­ing of the ex­ist­ing gun laws”.

The chal­lenge fac­ing those in­ter­ested in a dis­pas­sion­ate, fact-based dis­cus­sion and anal­y­sis of what is an emo­tional and com­plex is­sue is re­flected in the words of for­mer Lib­eral Tas­ma­nian premier Tony Run­dle, who was in­volved in the cre­ation of the Agree­ment.

He op­poses the Tas­ma­nian Gov­ern­ment be­cause he ‘thinks’ some of them will be in breach of the NFA. He said: “I don’t sup­port them be­cause I think once you start tin­ker­ing with the gun laws, it’s an un­pick­ing of them and there will be some main­land states tak­ing an in­ter­est.”

(Week­end Aus­tralian, March 10-11, 2018) In other words, those in­volved in the cre­ation of the NFA con­sti­tute the foun­tain of all wis­dom and no fur­ther cor­re­spon­dence will be en­tered into.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.