Stuck on spin cycle

less-spin-on-gun-laws

We’re being told our stolen guns are feeding the black market. 

This, from people who are either career seekers, don’t understand statistics, or don’t like to consult.

The recent announcement by the state government of a gun amnesty to address gun related crime misses a few important points.

But aren’t thefts from licensed firearm owners a problem?

As you will be aware, a rogue officer within the Victoria Police has been feeding the media that criminals get their guns from shooters like you. He’s been doing this on a regular basis.

While gun thefts have occurred, they are nowhere near as prevalent as we’re being told.

It creates the illusion that the gun problem is all your fault, and no-one else’s.

Bad you!

It’s spin.

Beware of the harm they could do

Calls like these come from people who stand to benefit from inventing an enemy that they can then slay.  In the case of the police, it can come from a senior officer looking for “that” promotion.

The sorts of suggestions they have made to the media include “more secure” storage, which means expensive back-to-base monitoring, thicker and heavier safes (remember Supt Gillard’s claim he could rip safes open with his teeth?) and a prohibition on storing firearms in places not always occupied, such as holiday homes and some farming houses.

Yet they rarely, if ever, cite data.

Left unchallenged, the risk is policy makers will come up with proposals along these lines which government’s agree to, then announce.  It happens not out of spite, but ignorance by the fact these policy makers have never been shooters themselves, so do not understand the industry.

It’s our job to stop it from getting to that stage, which is where your donations help us do this (click here if you’d like to sponsor us to do more!).

What is a firearm?

When our critics use data on firearm thefts, everyone assumes they are talking about guns found in Category A, B and C – but they are not.

The way stats are collected means that things like nail guns and imitation firearms – which do not fall under the Firearms Act – are counted as “firearms”.

All this does is exaggerate an already exaggerated problem.  More spin.

What about the waterfront?

The way anti-gun people talk, you wouldn’t think we had a waterfront – or if we did, the risk of illegal guns being imported into Australia is low.

Well, here are the facts.

Firstly, yes, we have a waterfront – and it’s a big one.

Secondly, BITRE, a federal government agency, reports that 99 million tonnes of cargo comes into Australia each year through the waterfront.  The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service has 5,358 officers.

One third of those work in the ACT, but even if we assume they were all available for searching containers on the waterfront to the exclusion of all other duties, that works out to 18,000 tonnes of cargo that comes in per customs officer, per year.  If we were more realistic about how Customs resources are distributed, that number would be closer to 30,000 tonnes.

That’s like standing in front of 20,000 cars with a key, trying to guess which one it will start.

Even a 2015 Australian Senate inquiry wasn’t able to add anything to this.

Anyone who says a gun amnesty or tightening up your storage will fix the problem, needs to accept that illegal imports play a big role in this.  In fact they probably play a far more important role.   After all, we don’t blame chemists for our illegal drug trade …..

Don’t we lock up people who deliberately hold unregistered guns

No.

Not long ago, Mick Gatto was caught with a loaded unregistereds sawn-off shotgun without a licence.

The Firearms Act 1996 provides for significant jail time (2 years for non-prohibited persons, 8 for prohibited persons). It was pretty black & white.  Yet he got a $2,500 fine, with no jail time.

So no, the courts will not lock up people who illegally hold guns.

If the government really wanted to solve the problem ….

People in Victoria can surrender firearms at Police Stations or dealers without any questions being asked.  An amnesty will not change that.

Obviously the hope by our government is that criminals will happily surrender their firearms – but that will never happen if our courts only imposing small fines.

The government should respond to community concerns about illegal use of firearms, but its messages needs to be a lot better targeted and more meaningful.

It needs to echo the advice of the Victorian Firearms Consultative Committee.  That’s because it is a forum where Victoria’s shooting organisations get an opportunity to openly discuss issues like this with the likes of the Law Institute of Victoria, Melbourne University, Police Association, the Department of Justice and Regulation and the Minister’s office.

Anything which improves the quality of debate and decision making has got to be a good thing.

It’ll result in less spin.

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