BITE THE BUL­LET

We must get guns out of sub­urbs, doc­tors say

Sunday Tasmanian - - Front Page - STEPHEN DRILL and ANNIKA SMETHURST

DOC­TORS want sport­ing shoot­ers to store weapons at gun clubs in­stead of their homes in one of the big­gest shake-ups of gun laws since the Port Arthur tragedy. The Aus­tralian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion has called on politi­cians to over­haul gun laws, show­ing the lead­er­ship that John Howard did af­ter the 1996 killings. It is un­der­stood au­thor­i­ties have con­sid­ered gun club stor­age be­cause they were con­cerned about peo­ple steal­ing guns from le­git­i­mate own­ers and us­ing them in crimes.

The call comes just days af­ter the Las Ve­gas shoot­ing, where gun­man Stephen Pad­dock killed 58 con­cert­go­ers and in­jured hun­dreds more.

AMA pres­i­dent Michael Gan­non, left, said gun clubs were the safest place to store weapons.

“Farm­ers should be stor­ing weapons se­curely on their prop­erty, but there’s no rea­son a sport­ing shooter in a metropoli­tan area needs to keep a gun at home,” he said.

“In­di­vid­u­als who own guns and keep them at home are more likely to be vic­tims of gun vi­o­lence.”

“If your form of recre­ation is be­ing a sport­ing shooter in­stead of a yachtie or watch­ing the footy, we’re not call­ing on a ban on guns but for the ap­pro­pri­ate use of firearms,” Mr Gan­non said.

Tas­ma­nia’s Shoot­ers, Fish­ers and Farm­ers Party said re­stric­tions on firearms and their own­ers were al­ready tight enough.

“Cer­tainly what hap­pened in Las Ve­gas, and other parts of the world, while be­ing a ma­jor dis­as­ter shouldn’t cause knee­jerk re­ac­tions back here in Aus­tralia,” act­ing chair­man Ken Orr said.

“We’ve got some of the tight­est gun laws in the world and the rest of the world looks at us as a gold stan­dard.”

Shoot­ers and firearms both re­quire li­cences in Tas­ma­nia, locked safes are manda­tory and am­mu­ni­tion must be stored separately.

This year, own­ers with 10 or more guns were re­quired to in­stall se­cu­rity cam­eras or alarms.

“We are li­censed as in­di­vid­u­als and have our firearms li­censed, and we com­ply with all the se­cu­rity re­quire­ments of both firearms and am­mu­ni­tion,” Mr Orr said.

Tas­ma­nian Min­is­ter for Po­lice and Emer­gency Man­age­ment Rene Hid­ding backed the cur­rent laws.

“Aus­tralia and Tas­ma­nia al­ready have some of the strong­est and most ef­fec­tive gun laws in the world. Linking Las Ve­gas to Aus­tralia’s gun laws in 2017 ig­nores that fact,” he said.

“How­ever, all ju­ris­dic­tions are com­mit­ted to en­sur­ing Aus­tralia’s laws are con­tem­po­rary and con­tinue to de­liver on the in­tent of the NFA [Na­tional Firearms Agree­ment].”

The Alan­nah & Made­line Foun­da­tion which was set up to hon­our three vic­tims of Port Arthur — the chil­dren of Wal­ter Mikac and his wife Nanette — said tak­ing guns out of the home would im­prove safety.

“We def­i­nitely un­der­stand that there is an in­creased risk when guns are in homes,” the char­ity’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Les­ley Podesta said.

But she said there was also a risk that gun clubs could be­come tar­gets.

“I am al­ways wor­ried about sig­nalling to peo­ple that want to do us harm that there are hun­dreds of guns be­ing stored in the one spot,” she said.

There has also been ur­gent calls to fast track a real-time na­tional gun reg­is­ter, which was first pro­posed af­ter 35 peo­ple were killed with semi­au­to­matic weapons in the Port Arthur ram­page.

Ms Podesta said she was “at a loss” as to why the real-time reg­is­ter wasn’t op­er­a­tional yet.

Fed­eral Jus­tice Min­is­ter Michael Keenan said in­for­ma­tion was cur­rently be­ing mi­grated to the new sys­tem, called the Aus­tralian Firearms In­for­ma­tion Net­work.

But Gov­ern­ment sources said the real-time reg­is­ter would not be op­er­a­tional un­til late next year.

Mr Keenan said that gun stor­age was a mat­ter for state govern­ments.

Tas­ma­nia’s Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Dar­ren Hine said: “Tas­ma­nia’s firearms li­cens­ing process re­quires ap­pli­cants to de­clare any men­tal or phys­i­cal ill­ness and, in some cir­cum­stances, re­quires them to pro­vide ap­pro­pri­ate med­i­cal cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

“Any­one who holds a firearms li­cence is re­quired to be a ‘fit and proper per­son’.

“Pro­cesses are also in place to fa­cil­i­tate the shar­ing of firearms in­for­ma­tion and in­tel­li­gence be­tween ju­ris­dic­tions, which also en­hance gun con­trol in Aus­tralia.”

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