Sunday, 10 February 2013

Blame-happy culture way off target

I try not to be the fellow who re-blogs or just shares links, but sometimes its really worth sharing... like when our mass media publishes an article or editorial that is not anti-gun ownership waffle and political spin. This is worth sharing. And because none of us know when it might happen again, I really wanted to capture the moment on the blog for future reference. Good article, intelligent content, written by no other than a SSAA executive. What's amazing is the the Sydney Morning Herald finally printed this article! Enjoy.

And here's the link to the article that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald today, 10 February 2013...
IT WAS former US president Ronald Reagan who summed it up best when he said: ''There's only one way to get real gun control: disarm the thugs and the criminals, lock them up and if you don't actually throw away the key, at least lose it for a long time.'' That's a handy rule for politicians everywhere.
The issue of firearms laws is back in the media around the world. From the tragic events at Sandy Hook - and the continuing debate over gun laws in the US - to the streets of Sydney, where the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, recently vowed to end gun crime.

A recent study showing that Australia has the same number of firearms today as it had in 1996 - before the Port Arthur massacre - drew a lot of media attention.

But the report overlooks an important point in regards to firearm ownership in Australia. Each of those firearms is legally owned and registered. It is the property of a licensed, law-abiding, firearm owner who has met and complied with some of the strictest gun laws in the world.

Many non-shooters I speak with believe Australia is developing some kind of American gun culture. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Here in NSW we have very strict laws that govern our sport and the use of firearms.

People who wish to legally buy a firearm have to obtain their firearms licence, which requires them to cite a ''genuine reason'' for having a licence. Applicants are also required to complete theory and practical firearm safety tests, and undergo an extensive police background check. They must also prove to police they have the appropriate facilities to store a firearm safely, and agree to regular police inspections of their storage to ensure it meets the strict standards set by the NSW Police Commissioner. In NSW it is also compulsory for firearm owners to attend club meetings each year.

The process, which can easily extend past 12 months, comes with ongoing legal responsibilities that our members must comply with.

That's why the Sporting Shooters Association welcomed recent comments by the NSW government and police that reaffirm licensed shooters are not to blame for gun crime.

The test for any new firearms legislation should be simple: will this law get illegal guns off the street? Unfortunately, the answer is, too often, no.

In 2012 more than 200 illegal firearms were sent through a suburban post office.

More recently, we have seen a group of criminals working in customs and border protection - our front line of defence against illegal firearms.

We represent target shooters - elite and recreational, hunters and farmers who use firearms safely. But every time they hear of a shooting incident, at home or abroad, they are left wondering what new restrictions will be imposed on their sport.

As a member of the NSW government's Firearms Consultative Committee, SSAA NSW wants to work with the government on sensible and effective firearms laws.

But we must focus on the criminals with illegal firearms. We must make it harder for them to get their hands on illegal firearms. When people are caught with illegal guns, we must make sure the punishment fits the crime. Because criminals who show no respect for the law should not expect nor receive leniency when they are caught.

Diana Melham is the executive director of the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (NSW) Inc.

Melham, D. (2013, February 10) . Blame-happy culture way off target. Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from

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