Former Tasmanian MLC Tony Mulder has come out in support of the proposed changes to the firearms act by Will Hodgman in the Advocate:
“Mr Mulder said he supported the National Firearms Agreement but there needed to be changes to Tasmanian gun laws so that farmers could control browsing animals.
Mr Mulder’s views come amid a backlash from Tasmanians about the Government’s planned changes to gun laws — the opposition coming from Port Arthur victims to former premier Tony Rundle and former prime minister John Howard. All are pushing for no change.
“As the police logistics commander during Port Arthur, I know what military- style guns can do,” Mr Mulder told the Mercury. He said he had faced a criminal pointing a weapon at his head and witnessed many murder scenes during his police career.
However, he said, Police Minister Rene Hidding had negotiated proposed gun law changes with farmers and needed to go ahead with them rather than backdown because of public pressure. “I believe in a need to bear arms, not a right to bear arms, and we need to look at who needs them as tools of trade,” he said.
Mr Mulder said he had not seen the full changes proposed by Mr Hidding including the extension of licences from five years to 10 years. But he said that high-power, high-calibre reasonably rapid fire weapons were needed for animal control purposes.
“At the moment there are Category C five-shot shotguns and that may go to seven-shot, but I’m not sure that after two shots you need a shotgun because if you haven’t hit it in two it is going to run away,” he said. Mr Mulder said that people would need a bigger weapon than a .22 to control feral deer.
“The Liberals have negotiated these changes with the farming community and now they are showing all the signs of weakening and pandering to the public pressure,” he said.
Mr Mulder said that as the member for Rumney he had amended several bills to lessen penalties for breach of storage regulations. “Some of those penalties were three times what was happening in Victoria,” he said.
The Legislative Council is likely to conduct an inquiry into the gun law changes which were low profile until the day before the March 3 election.”
For the most part, a lot more reasonable and nuanced than we have seen from some in this debate so far. However, a few points.
As we’ve pointed out before, need is an authoritarian strawman argument. While we don’t have a clear bill of rights akin to the United States in this country, why someone ‘needs’ something is not an argument to impose restrictions, and it really is no one else’s business what one needs or wants.
The AR15 used at Port Arthur is not ‘military style’ and that kind of statement from an ex-Policeman quietly confirms why Police don’t do themselves any favours being involved in the formation of firearm laws. If they can’t identify them correctly, then how can you administer the act? Particularly as one of the proposals by Rene Hidding is to take steps to remove the ridiculous ‘military appearance’ laws.
Mulder’s experience having a criminal pointing a weapon at his head is also interesting to note – Police have the capacity to respond to said situations while ordinary citizens, much like those at Port Arthur, do not. That is rarely put up for discussion.
Further, what is a “reasonable rapid fire weapon” as opposed to an unreasonable one?
Other than these sticking points, which are likely the media’s words, Mulder’s support for these laws is a good thing. However, the language being used around the debate needs to be adjusted.
The national firearms agreement is a non-legally binding agreement and as Mulder states, Tasmania should go ahead, ignore it and make the changes as it is entitled to do.