I was amazed when the normally complicit media had articles like this
in yesterday's papers.
Gun ownership is rising and there is no definitive evidence that a decade of restrictive firearms laws has done anything to reduce weapon-related crime, according to NSW's top criminal statistician.
The latest figures show a renaissance in firearm ownership in the state - a 25 per cent increase in three years. And the head of the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Don Weatherburn, said falls in armed robberies and abductions in NSW in the past few years had more to do with the heroin drought and good policing than firearms legislation.
Even falls in the homicide rate, which have been steady, began long before the gun law debate provoked by the Port Arthur massacre in 1996.
Nationwide, the proportion of robberies involving weapons is the same as it was in 1996, while the proportion of abductions involving weapons is higher, the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics fiures reveal. They show a mixed result in firearms-related offences since the mid-1990s. There has been a fall in firearms murders (from 32 to 13 per cent) but a rise (19 to 23 per cent) in attempted murders involving guns.
"I would need to see more convincing evidence than there is to be able to say that gun laws have had any effect," Dr Weatherburn said. "The best that could be said for the tougher laws is there has been no other mass killing using firearms [since Port Arthur].
"There has been a drop in firearm-related crime, particularly in homicide, but it began long before the new laws and has continued on afterwards. I don't think anyone really understands why. A lot of people assume that the tougher laws did it, but I would need more specific, convincing evidence …
"There has been a more specific … problem with handguns, which rose up quite rapidly and then declined. The decline appears to have more to do with the arrest of those responsible than the new laws. As soon as the heroin shortage hit, the armed robbery rate came down. I don't think it was anything to do with the tougher firearm laws."
The Shooters Party MP John Tingle agrees with this analysis but has decided to retire from politics next April because he is frustrated in his attempts to prevent further restrictions, even though the number of registered guns in NSW has jumped from 516,468 to 648,369 since 2002.
"If the laws had worked there would be much less illegal gun crime … we are continuing this perception that if you tighten firearm laws you are going to control firearm crime, even though the opposite is true. Restrictive laws against legitimate ownership and use do nothing to stop gun-related crime because only law-abiding citizens will adhere to laws."
The Police Commissioner, Ken Moroney, supports the laws irrespective of the statistics. "I don't think the laws have been designed to eliminate every firearm off the face of the Earth … but it has achieved proper registration, storage and more effective licensing. These measures have all been successful and John Tingle's role should be acknowledged … he is a man of objectivity and fairness. He hasn't been an advocate for advocacy sake."
Note the Police Commissioner at the end.
I'd love to see the stats regarding ammunition sales in Australia since 1996.
I was happy putting 50 rounds a year through my .22 before I was forced to join a club to "prove my genuine reason".
So I joined.
Pretty soon, I was putting 5,000 rounds a year through the rifle, and bought another two for long distance competition and cowboy type events respectively.
My partner got her licence and her own rifle as well. At least 30 people in our club (50%) are in exactly the same boat
Ammunition sales would paint a very interesting picture.