You just have to laugh at these things don’t you?
Justice Minister Michael Keenan announced that there will be an ongoing national firearm amnesty as part of a bid to stop illegal firearms in Australia, in a vain attempt to curb the increasing levels of inner city violence. There will be no compensation offered unlike the compensated confiscation of 1996 where in the grand scheme of things, hardly anything of substance was handed in.
To be honest, this is nothing new at all and more a PR stunt on the surface. The fact is that in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania there have already been permanent or ongoing amnesties where a firearm can be handed in, no questions asked. The reality is, if any firearms are indeed handed back they will be those from deceased estates or those that are discovered unintentionally, as is the norm.
Criminals didn’t hand their guns back in 1996. They will not hand their guns back in 2016.
The absurdities of this latest move are numerous. Does Keenan really think that criminals that have imported firearms illegally at a hefty price (claimed by Fairfax without any sources on prices) are going to have a sudden case of buyer’s remorse and surrender them for free? Will they surrender all those illegal drugs that come in with the guns at the same time? Will it do anything to stop firearm thefts from Police and Military as has all too often been the case, and if it’s anything like 1996 how many of these surrendered firearms will end up back on the street?
Keenan has also pledged another $88 million to scan freight entering Australia. The reality is it’s a drop in the ocean when less than 4% of it is checked. Realistically, it is financially and logistically prohibitive to check more and they know it. Even if it was increased to 10% that still leaves a 90% chance of success of something illegal getting through. It also still means nothing when there is serious organised crime influence on our docks, reknown gun runners working in Australian waters and virtually no port security. This is not to say do nothing, but just giving a realistic perspective on the rose coloured press releases.
Also proposed is minimum mandatory sentencing for firearms trafficking. While some firearm owners support this idea, I personally am against mandatory sentencing for the simple fact that it removes discretion. Sure, sentencing is half the problem but that’s more about judges upholding and actually imposing decent sentences. Further, this is also incredibly dangerous for firearm owners and dealers especially. If they make one mistake with their paperwork are they then looking at being charged and thrown under the bus for something minor and have a minimum five years of their life taken from them? The potential for this to go wrong or be used against law abiding firearm owners incorrectly is great and I personally think it is not the right way to go. We already have enough laws – they just need to be actually enforced.
And to top it off Border Force have announced yet another series of strikes across the board as part of an ongoing pay dispute. Keenan couldn’t have timed his announcement any better.
This whole episode in bureaucratic stupidity was kicked off with a series of Fairfax articles (full of the usual factual inaccuracies) earlier this week, which were essentially paid for PR to announce these changes. There is no doubt that combined with the Q&A attempted hatchet job on Monday night against Senator Bridget McKenzie, that this is a co-ordinated, deliberately timed announcement in the lead up to the NFA, similar to the planned media blitz that we saw during the Port Arthur anniversary. The fact that the Alannah and Madeline Foundation were even consulted raises more questions about the legitimacy of that organisation as an actual charity, as opposed to a gun control lobby group.
AMF board member Neil Mitchell couldn’t help himself on 3AW either, even suggesting non evidence based arbitrary limits on the number of firearms a person can have. He was only outdone in the dumb stakes by the notorious Sam Lee’s suggestion that “lever action shotguns be moved to Category C because terrorists might get them.” It’s a good thing Man Monis couldn’t get an illegal Cat C shotgun or that Cat D and E firearms aren’t being imported illegally already. Oh wait…
What this latest chapter has indeed done is point out how incredibly useless the National Firearms Interface and the respective state firearm registries are. They do nothing to stop, keep track of, or prevent the use of, the massive amounts of illegal firearms out in the community. So why no discussion on scrapping the registries a la Canada and New Zealand? Oh that’s right, that would be common sense. We don’t do that in the Australian bureaucracy. We don’t think about cutting, we just spend.
My main concern about this latest move however, is that it could be the thin edge of the wedge and used as an excuse for further restrictions come NFA time. Put simply: “oh look, we’re going after illegal firearms like you told us to…..we upheld our part of the ‘deal’ now give us your lever actions and more.”
No, we’re not giving you anything.
The Federal Government also don’t want to embarrass the Australian Border Force and draw attention to the huge problems in the immigration program. Because it would be embarrassing to spend all that money on uniforms and press releases and not actually change anything. As far as Melbourne is concerned, the recent crime waves are almost exclusively the doings of both Sudanese and Middle Eastern gangs. But remember, we can deport criminals from New Zealand no questions asked but can’t do the same to those from the countries in question because the leftist snowflakes might get upset.
Remember, this is Australia – land of the ideological bureaucrat. The same stupidity that has said bureaucrats now trying to enforce a ban on online sales sites that do not charge GST at the behest of Gerry Harvey. Never fear, we all saw their genius IT skills on display at the Census so I’m sure they’ll have that locked down.
The illegal firearm problem will not go away and I would argue it will only get worse. I look forward to the explanations drummed out when firearm crime does not decrease. The fact is, there is really no clear metric from Minister Keenan or anybody about how this amnesty or latest round of spending will be measured in terms of effectiveness. In short, the government has brought this on themselves and I draw similar parallels with the illegal firearm problem to what it has done with tobacco. It made guns highly restricted and the black market thrives. It’s also made tobacco highly restricted and the black market thrives. Let’s not get started on drugs. And now they have to increase spending to try and ‘solve’ a problem they are perpetually creating themselves.
Australia has an illegal firearm problem. But as the brilliant work of Topher Field points out, it more importantly has a stupid bureaucrat problem.