Yesterday the major parties both united to reject the proposed inquiry into self-defence that was being proposed by SFFP MP Jeff Bourman. Why was this inquiry rejected? After all it’s just about having a discussion on self-defence. Much like the recent banking inquiry, one must consider that when politicians screech loudly about how much a public inquiry isn’t necessary, the opposite is more likely the case.
Recent incidents in Victoria and more broadly in Australia have highlighted the often uncertain legal situations relating to self defence. Regretfully these situations can result in a loss of life or serious injury, both to those attacked and to those who have initiated the attack. These incidents often result in people facing serious criminal charges over the appropriateness of their response to a sudden and violent attack. 1 2 3 4
We believe that the safety of all parties could be improved through allowing members of the public to possess non lethal items for the purpose of self defence. Specifically, items like pepper spray would allow situations to be effectively defused by members of the community and also present no lasting harm to those they are used against. We believe that allowing possession of these items would go a long way to preventing more lethal items being used in an improvised fashion, as is currently the case.
We now see many cases where intruders have been killed with knives or bare hands, when the homeowner left facing serious criminal charges in situation where the use of pepper spray would likely have resolved the attack without long lasting injury to either party. However, these less than lethal tools are not lawfully available to the public in any State or Territory bar Western Australia. 5 6 7 8
Tragically though we also see far too many incidents where people are horrifically murdered in public, without any lawful means to defend themselves. A maniac intent on killing has no qualms about illicitly carrying a knife in public, but those whom these laws are meant to protect instead find themselves stripped of any protection.9 10 11
We are simply asking the major parties, how could they possibly reject the concept of having a discussion about self defence? We suspect we already know the answer: they are afraid of the outcome.