Doctors in gun laws fight
Medical groups urge Hodgman not to forget Port Arthur
FRONTLINE medical professionals will today demand the State Government strengthen rather than water down gun laws, with submissions to an inquiry into the proposed changes closing this week.
Representatives from across the medical professions will front the media to send a message to the Liberal Government that the post-Port Arthur laws work and changes promised to gun users breach the National Firearms Agreement (NFA).
A Liberal Party pledge to loosen restrictions on some semiautomatic weapons and to double licence periods became public on the eve of the state election in March.
The policy had been made available to firearms owners.
The Government has since agreed to a Legislative Council inquiry into the proposed changes, with Premier Will Hodgman repeatedly reassuring Tasmanians the NFA will not be breached.
Medical groups including the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation and the Health and Community Services Union have all made submissions to the Upper House inquiry.
Medics for Gun Control spokesman and GP Phill Pull- inger said there had been 13 mass shootings in Australia in the two decades before the Port Arthur massacre of 1996, and just one in the 20 years since.
“Gun deaths have more than halved since the Port Arthur gun laws were put in place,” Dr Pullinger said. “They’re excellent laws and have been effective.
“Really the focus of government should be on upholding and strengthening those laws and further reducing deaths and harm from gun violence.” A submission from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners highlights the toll on first responders, daily code black security alerts in hospitals and stretched mental health services.
“To soften gun control laws would increase the risk of firearm-related trauma to all Tasmanians and this must be avoided,” college president Bastian Seidel said.
Also backing tougher laws will be the Alannah and Made- line Foundation set up to honour the memory of the Mikac girls killed at Port Arthur and to fight violence against children.
The organisation’s advocacy manager Stephen Bendle said the Hodgman Government proposals clearly breached the NFA.
“We’re hopeful that Premier Hodgman will step back from those policy statements.”