There are many things in this world that I don’t understand. On my mind very recently has been the issue of gun control.
I live in Australia. We have very strong gun laws. Since the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996, our gun laws have become even more strict. During that massacre, 35 people were killed and 23 injured. Afterwards, our government enacted ‘The National Firearms Programme Implementation Act 1996, restricting the private ownership of semi-automatic rifles, semi-automatic shotguns and pump-action shotguns as well as introducing uniform firearms licensing.’ The legislation had bipartisan support, and was implemented across all states and territories in Australia.
The government then had a firearms buyback scheme, which resulted in over 600,000 firearms taken out of circulation. Automatic and semiautomatic guns were banned. If you own a gun in Australia, you’re subject to strict licensing checks, and guns must be locked away in an approved gun safe, with the ammunition stored separately.
I don’t own a gun. I have never wanted or needed to own a gun. I have friends who do, but they’re either farmers or target shooters. No-one I know carries a gun routinely. No-one I know feels the need to carry one.
Australia isn’t crime free. It’s also not gun crime free, however since the introduction of our gun laws, we’ve not had one gun massacre.
From afar, I’ve watched the repeated gun massacres that occur in the US. Along with many of my fellow Australians, I’ve watched people try and call for stricter gun laws there only to be howled down by others. Politicians have attempted to enact stricter gun laws, but their electorates have resisted them.
I really don’t understand why. (And yes, I have heard of the second amendment.)
Of course, I’ve seen the online memes – those pictures that state things like ‘If you are for gun control, then you are not against guns, because the guns will be needed to disarm people. So it’s not that you are anti-gun. You’ll need the police’s guns to take away other people’s guns. So you’re very Pro-Gun, you just believe that only the Government (which is, of course, so reliable, honest, moral and virtuous…) should be allowed to have guns. There is no such thing as gun control. There is only centralizing gun ownership in the hands of a small, political elite and their minions.’
‘Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.’
The first one sounds like paranoia, while the second one just makes me shake my head. Of course people kill people, but having an automatic or semiautomatic gun makes it much easier to kill a lot of people in one go.
I have no issues with farmers owning guns to enable them to euthanise livestock. I also have no issue about those who want to target shoot – as long as they’re licensed and store their weapons safely.
What I don’t get is why anyone ‘needs’ to own an automatic or semiautomatic gun, or why anyone would need or want to carry one in their handbag, or during everyday activities.
I’ve also heard people say that they need a gun to protect themselves, or to overthrow the government at some point, should they disagree with it. (I’ve always thought that’s why we have the vote.) Bizarrely, I’ve even seen posts on Facebook that suggest that if more people carried guns they could prevent a massacre. I fail to see how many people all pulling out their guns in a public place to take down a gunman attempting to massacre lots of people, wouldn’t simply result in more deaths.
Here, I live free from the fear that someone will accidentally shoot me. Free from the fear of massacre, and free from the fear that a child might accidentally find a gun in my house and shoot itself or somebody else.
I’m not naive – I am aware that if someone desperately wanted to, they might be able to plan and execute a massacre, even with our gun laws. However, a spur of the moment thing is going to be much more difficult.
When the Sandy Hook Massacre occurred, I, like many Australians, thought – ‘Surely this will mean that the US will consider gun control laws. Surely they will, because someone’s just killed a whole pile of little, tiny children.’ Then we watched astounded while nothing changed.
Today we awoke to news of yet another massacre – this time San Bernadino. It seems as if massacres will continue to be a way of life for Americans. No matter how many times it happens, it seems that nothing will change. If the deaths of many small children don’t stir the US to enact stronger laws around gun control, I can’t imagine why the deaths of 20 plus adults would.
At the moment, I’m bracing myself for the influx of memes, comments, and articles from social media friends who are from the US and are pro-gun. My Facebook feed will have a flurry of statements like the ones above. There will be articles explaining that gun control won’t stop massacres because they just won’t, and a whole other stream suggesting that it’s important to have more guns so that massacres will be prevented.
All I can say is that I just don’t get it, and I am forever grateful that our government has taken such a tough stance on gun laws.
In the meantime, I’ll just continue to pray that our overseas fellows might begin to see reason. This is not the first time I’ve queried this subject, and I quite understand that this opinion of mine will be very unpopular in many circles, but I do hope it makes people think.