“THE Hunter is gun mad – and proud of it – with shooters stockpiling almost 100,000 registered firearms.
A Fairfax Media investigation can reveal that the number of registered firearms in the region has increased by about 30,000 – or a third – in the past five years. In 2012 there were almost 70,000 registered firearms in the Hunter, compared to 99,502 in July last year. This equates to, on average, an additional 16 guns per day.
In the same time, the number of people with gun licences jumped from 17,400 to 26,500, a 52 per cent increase. There is also a growing number of Hunter postcodes where guns outnumber adults. Three rural postcodes covering Merriwa, Aberdeen and Willow Tree all have more guns than adults.
Data obtained from NSW Police under freedom of information laws reveals Merriwa’s postcode has 1655 registered firearms shared by 1609 adults and Aberdeen’s has 684 guns shared by 567 adults.
Gun Control Australia chairwoman Samantha Lee said the region had a “Rambo culture”, she described as “worrying”.
Ms Lee said Australia’s tough gun laws, introduced by John Howard, had been significantly watered down by state governments since they were introduced under the National Firearms Agreement in the days after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996.
According to research by Philip Alpers, an associate professor of public health at the University of Sydney, all Australian states have succumbed to pressure from gun owners, or the parties that represent them, to water down some aspects of the agreement.
The report, issued late last year and commissioned by Gun Control Australia, found that NSW was non-compliant in allowing the use of silencers, in allowing non-professional pest control shooters to use high-powered semi-automatic weapons and permitting unlicensed shooters to have firearm training.
Gun Control Australia has been pushing for a limit on the number of firearms per licence holder so there are fewer guns being stored in the one place. “I think it’s a mixture of forgetting what happened 20 years ago at Port Arthur and the government wanting the gun vote,” Ms Lee said.
“The concern is we’re going to go back to pre-Port Arthur days.”
Well, Lee (unintentionally) accurately described the current situation with firearm owners in Australia: people who just want to be left alone continually being hassled by the government and Police.
Lee just recycled the same old talking points she does every article: patently false claims of laws being watered down, citing long discredited cash-for-comment “researcher” Philip Alpers and then throws in a Port Arthur reference for the emotive set.
Further, GCA’s “report” cites dubious research by the aforementioned fake Professor Philip Alpers. The states are under no legal obligation, apart from financial blackmail with the threatened cut of federal funding, to comply with the National Firearms Agreement as it is not, and never has been, a legally binding agreement. Even Rebecca Peters was forced to admit this on the ABC last year.
Citing anything by Philip Alpers is an insult to actual researchers like Dr Samara McPhedran, who has undertaken numerous peer reviewed, excellent studies addressing the firearm debate in Australia.
So much so, that Alpers has had the pin well and truly pulled on his funding:
Well, we would welcome a return to the pre-Port Arthur days, where firearm owners weren’t all treated like murderers in waiting, the laws were fairer (for the most part), sections of the Australian public didn’t turn into programmed frightbats when anything firearm related was mentioned and firearms were viewed as just another tool, as evidenced by a recent video on the ABC.
We’d also like a return to the days of actual nuanced debate and evidenced based policy instead of the usual emotive screeching about Port Arthur and authoritarian overtones on firearms.
2 ammunitions. The Pardus takes AR15’s magazines. Rambo culture.
At least Sam has got two more catch phrases than the I didn’t do it boy.