Steve Burgess South Australia: I would not pretend to be an expert on this subject. I did, however, spend six years in the Royal Australian Army and sadly I have lost two members of my immediate family to firearms. As I said I am no expert but I feel have a greater understanding than most. To be clear I still own and use firearms. All I ask is that you take the time to consider my opinion.
The recent and very tragic event in the U.S.A. have put the spotlight on Australia’s gun laws, again. There will be calls to further tighten Australia’s gun laws. Personally, I do not think this call has merit. Let me explain.
Last year we had 158,504 deaths in Australia [Australian Bureau of Statistics] there were sadly, 2,862 suicides among these deaths. The suicide rate for males is three times higher than women. The most common methods of suicide for males are: hanging 57.8%; by drugs/poisoning 9.8%; and firearms at 8%. For women, the most common methods used where hanging 47.4% followed by drugs at 28.1%. Sobering figures.
Gun deaths totalled 211 in the same year – 8% of the nearly three-quarters of these deaths [the males] gives us about 172 of the 211 firearm deaths being suicides. This would leave about 39 deaths caused by firearms, that may be accidents, crime or terrorism, Australia wide. 39 per year.
My personal experience is a death in the family is a horrible thing to go through, the emptiness never leaves you. If you have lost someone, and last year 158,504 of us did, you have my total sympathy. I know how you feel.
Why do firearms cause so much emotion? Why do so many fear them?
We cannot consider the impact of firearm deaths without reflecting on some of the major causes of death in Australia, for instance smoking in 2004-2005 killed about 14,900 of us, 40 easily preventable deaths per day! Why do we not ban smoking? I think we should, my dear wife is a chronic asthmatic, second-hand cigarette smoke for her is a life threating, day to day risk. But we don’t fear smoking.
With road accidents last year, we lost around 1,230 people. Coupled with the maimed-for-life, This is a horrific figure. Speeding and drink driving are often quoted as major factors in the road toll. The technology to prevent cars from speeding, period, anywhere has been with us for decades, as have anti-drink driving methods. Why don’t legislate to force all cars and trucks to have them? For starters, we don’t fear motor cars!
Most people fear or have a healthy respect for sharks, we all watched Jaws and no one, no one wants to be eaten by him! Last year we lost 4 people to shark attacks. After each death there are calls for culling, shark nets, etc. We fear sharks, but unless you are going swimming near a seal colony wearing a lamb chop vest, your chances of meeting a shark are very, very remote. We fear sharks and just like we fear firearms, we should not.
It is important that we separate the safe, legal shooter from the criminal, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission states “Motivated criminals are more likely to be interested in using unregistered firearms, as they are unlikely to be traceable by law enforcement agencies”. If a firearm is used in a crime it will more than likely be an illegal weapon, legal gun owners should not be held responsible for these crimes or act of terrorism.
In 2015/2016 the ACIC detected 1,750 firearms, parts and magazines entering Australia, mostly via the post, this begs the question: ‘How many did they miss?’. If we tighten the laws governing the legal shooter, will this restrict gun access to the criminal? Clearly not!
If you are a member of a sporting club, interest group, car club etc., you will understand the importance of public liability insurance. As members of these groups we normally pay insurance via our annual fees. Care to have a guess which sport has one of the lowest insurance costs? Insurance companies go by history/ risk, and the simple fact is sport shooting is one of the safest sports in the land. As for the farmer, he or she is far more likely to be killed on his quad bike than his guns.
Farmers need guns for feral control, whilst shooters and hunters want them for recreation.
The acts of terrorism and crimes using firearms have clearly very little correlation with the legal gun owner.
Let us focus our attention on the real killers in society. I have mentioned only two – smoking and road deaths. We should also reflect on the 2,862 people who, last year alone, for one reason or another, thought this life we have is not worth living. This is where we need to put our combined efforts.
Pauline Hanson Senate Speech: The worst kind of government disarms its people
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