Gun Control Australia spokesman Charles Watson gave an interview on the ABC this week on the national firearm amnesty. As usual, GCA were allowed to air their view unopposed, with no pro-firearm guest on to counter the myriad of farcical claims made by Watson.
Who is Charles Watson? Well, he has a career in Medicine and academic research. He’s also one of the infamous University of Sydney alumni which houses Philip Alpers, Rebecca Peters and Simon Chapman. Why he’s decided to diminish his other qualifications by jumping on the GCA gravy train while having no expertise or research in firearms, remains a mystery.
The interview was about as formulaic as it gets in terms of standard GCA talking points, with Watson stammering and stuttering his way through it.
Watson conceded that criminals and terrorists wouldn’t turn their guns in at the amnesty. No kidding? He also claims that storage laws need to be tightened but was completely oblivious to the theft at Barry’s Firearms that occurred in the state of his residence, with the strictest storage laws in the country. Not off to a great start.
The usual fallacious claim of “no massacres since 1996” was made straight off the bat as well, which comes as news to the victims of our latest massacre at Bourke Street; the standard “only counts if you get shot” mantra applies here. David Leyonhjelm wrote a great article last week addressing this continually perpetuated “no massacres” myth and the accompanying goal post shifting and mental gymnastics that goes with it, rendering Watson’s claim inert.
Watson then claimed the 1996 firearm steal-back was “effective in getting pump action shotguns and semi-automatic firearms out of the community.” That comes as a surprise to Man Monis, Rick Maddison and the rest.
The perpetually debunked Adler shotgun card was played yet again and Watson then claimed that hunting in national parks was allowed in New South Wales. Aside from a very limited SSAA NSW pest management initiative that has kicked off to a tiny few, that claim is entirely false.
Watson also didn’t mention the recently released report by the NSW Department of Primary Industries, which showed the hundreds of millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs that hunting in NSW tips into the state’s economy.
This is where it gets entertaining. Watson claimed that “6000 firearms a year were stolen” and that “99% of illicit firearms were stolen from the legal market.” A claim so bold that even the normally biased, ABC host’s expression was one of disbelief.
The National Firearm Theft Monitoring Program produced it’s last report in 2011 and stated that “a total of 1,570 firearms were stolen in 620 reported incidents of firearm theft in 2008–09 from all Australian states and territories excluding Western Australia.”
The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission’s latest report states “Theft accounts for the diversion of 8.5 per cent of firearms traced in 2015–16. While it is likely some of these stolen firearms come into the possession of organised crime groups, the total number is unknown.”
The Senate Inquiry from 2015 is the most damning for Watson’s claims: “Data provided by state and territory police indicated that firearms from a very small percentage of theft incidents (less than 5 per cent) reported in the four year period 2005-06 to 2008-09 were subsequently used to commit a criminal offence or found in the possession of a person charged with a non-firearm related criminal offence.”
Watson also claimed that the AFP were “very good at detecting illegal firearms.” Well that’s not what the Auditor General’s office stated in it’s latest report on the scanning of international mail, where the ANAO’s report indicated that around only 13 per cent of prohibited imports arriving in international mail were seized in 2012-13. The AFP even admitted at the same Senate Inquiry they only knew about what they intercepted. Considering their current struggles with encrypted messages, the plot thickens.
And to top that off, Australian Border Force failed to meet their container inspection targets for 2015-16, which still only accounts for 3% of the 2,300,000 containers on average that arrive in Australia.
Roland Browne then claimed the next day on ABC Radio it was “2000 firearms stolen.” Piers Grove, perhaps the lesser known face of GCA, wrote different numbers in the official GCA press release. It seems that GCA can’t even co-ordinate their propaganda correctly and that the A in GCA might as well stand for amateur.
The entire interview was purely Watson reading off a script and collecting his cheque.
That cheque may be diminishing returns considering that Gun Control Australia’s “fighting fund” has not even met half of their goal at the time of writing (I’m sure GetUp and the rest will ‘anonymously’ donate them the money). According to the same campaign, GCA is “staffed by all volunteers.”
It seems that money can’t buy credibility or popularity for GCA. Charles Watson should stick to medicine because the prognosis for his credibility on firearms is a resounding negative.