Recently the spectre of the firearms control debate has emerged again with the National Firearms agreement causing concern among Australian firearm owners. The Sydney siege and other similar events combined with the continual reports of mass shootings in the U.S has focused the public discussion on how we do things in Australia. And inline with the expected trend and attitude of the political scene here, there are fears that we again will lose more of our civil freedoms in order to supplicate to the idea that civilians shouldn’t be armed.
My reason for this take on the subject isn’t as subjective as it may come across for the uninitiated. As a recent discourse in one our parliaments shows. A local MP has sought, via a disallowance motion to void a restriction on the importation of a firearm that for reasons that are subject to ridicule, was banned by the then Prime Minister Tony Abbot. During the debate, in which the bill was defeated, the topic of a citizen being able to defend themselves and their property became a part of the conversation.
I won’t go into the detail of the debate but suffice to say the point was made by a dissenting MP that the State (in his opinion) has the monopoly on the use of force in relation to this aspect and thus maintained the right to deny the private citizen a rationale for being armed. Now, I can understand what he was getting at and I to a certain degree agree with the gist of what he said there. The concept of the State having this acknowledged in law is a good thing mostly, as it tends to aim at eliminating the issue of a community developing a mob justice mindset. My issue with this concept being extended to the exclusion of the private citizen comes down to the fact that, in that gravest extreme it fails the reality test.
There is no moral or ethical standard, in my opinion, that excepts the individual from being able to prevent themselves from being a victim of violent crime. And this is something I think the majority of Australian citizens fail to grasp until that moment, where they’re forced to recognise this, when they’re having to deal with it personally. If you assess the police advice on the subject of personal safety, they advise one to simply have a plan that works. Now, there are laws regarding using force to protect yourself and this is in part due to the requirement to maintain the law and order factor that we all agree with and rely on. But how this can be construed by a MP as being exclusive to the State is sheer idiocy.
There were some good things done back in 1996 when the issue of civilian access to weaponry was reassessed but the major disagreement I have, was the stridently put reason, that the protection of the individual from violence, was not to be allowed as a reason to possess a firearm. This is the point were these laws lost a vital part of their moral basis.
As we have seen repeatedly in Australia, the new laws have failed to prevent mass killings as these individuals have just changed the means they use to commit these crimes. Here in Australia, our mass murderers use arson and knives. And with the continual recovery of category C/D/H (self-loading rifles and shotguns and handguns-the most restricted types) in drug raids etc we see a demonstration of the failed nature of this approach. Recently there have been a selection of functional, homemade sub machine guns recovered in these raids as well. Another salient point to be considered. This is a real problem as the very people and groups we don’t want armed are being found with these types of firearms.
My take on the subject in closing is, that I’m not advising any carte blanche issuance to whoever is wanting a weapon being able to legally access one, I shouldn’t really need to state that but I will just in case the perception exists. There’s no reason why we can’t have a carefully structured system that facilitates this need. If the law and community can accept, as it currently does, that a genuine reason to possess and use a firearm can be for sports and recreation, then surely the defence of human life would have to be the most genuine reason. After all it’s the Weapons Act, not the Sporting and Recreational Instruments Act.