The Sunday Mail (Queensland)

Why we need to talk guns


IT IS disappoint­ing but not surprising that 25 years after the Port Arthur massacre, state and federal government­s have failed to implement a national gun register.

It is just one of the many suggested legislativ­e changes and tweaks that still have not occurred despite the internatio­nally recognised success of former prime minister John Howard’s gun laws.

The regulation­s around gun ownership remain full of loopholes and kinks that allow gun owners to escape registrati­on and regulation.

Most of the changes proposed by Mr Howard’s government happened in the heat of battle, when the nation was still reeling from the shock of what occurred at Port Arthur.

Unlike in the US, Australian­s were so genuinely horrified and appalled by the massacre, the likes of which we had not experience­d before, that no amount of bleating from the gun lobby was going to prevent change.

But the gun lobby was smart. They stopped what they could and then they waited. They waited until the national pain had subsided, and quietly and surely they campaigned to water down some of the proposed changes.

They were so patient that some of the laws have been watered down in some states as voters moved on to the issue of the day and politician­s realised they did not need to fight any more.

The malaise was aided by the desire by some not to mention the crimes of Port Arthur shooter Martin Bryant out of respect for the victims and their families.

The problem with that strategy is that people do move on and they wrongly believed the issue was solved. The worldwide praise for our gun laws, while deserved, also added to the general thinking that everything had been sorted.

People … wrongly believed the issue was solved

Everyone knows, most especially the gun lobby, that laws do not change and politician­s do not act when no one is talking or thinking about the issue.

We need to keeping talking about gun ownership in this country and ensure our laws are not watered down.

A national gun register is a good place to start.

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