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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 3 Hansard (27 March) . . Page.. 745 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (5.01), in reply: Mr Speaker, I want to thank members for their support for this legislation. Amending weapons legislation is never easy. There are always those in the community who would argue that the tightening of access to guns results in people who wish to use guns other than in terms of that restricted regime going outside the law in order to continue their ownership or use of guns. Let me say at the outset that there is some validity to that argument. With each tightening of weapons legislation there are some who, for whatever reason, choose to keep weapons outside that regime and who illegally keep or use weapons in those circumstances. But it is not my view, Mr Speaker, that that phenomenon should prevent the ACT from continuing to set a very clear standard for the maintenance of gun ownership, and, as I think Mr Moore indicated, it should be at the forefront in Australia of efforts to ensure that weapons are kept out of the community and are strictly and tightly controlled.

I think we have achieved a fairly high degree of control. I think that degree is appropriate, and I look forward to being able to entice other Australian jurisdictions to reflect those standards adopted in the ACT in their own jurisdictions. Indeed, there have been discussions - I suspect that they will now be given more urgency because of events in Scotland and elsewhere - that will lead, I think, to at least an effort on the part of jurisdictions to achieve higher levels of gun control. That will again be led by the ACT, because we do have already a standard such that in most areas, I think, other jurisdictions would have to say that we have set a standard worthy of emulation. The multipartisan nature of our approach towards gun ownership and gun control which was referred to - (Quorum formed)

Mr Speaker, we could not possibly have this debate without the Greens, so we have called them in. For the benefit of our new arrivals, the Assembly is debating the Weapons (Amendment) Bill and I am indicating that I greatly appreciate and thank members for the multipartisan support they have given to this Bill and, indeed, not just to this Bill, but to the whole approach that we have adopted over a number of years in respect of gun control. We need to maintain that. I fully agree with Ms Follett that we should never have a debate, if we can avoid it, in this place, with fingers accusingly pointed across the chamber and saying, "You are soft on gun control" or "You are too draconian". I think that the level of support we have engendered in this place on those issues is commendable because it sends a clear signal to the community that we expect those standards to be maintained and we will work towards building on them and increasing their acceptability in the community and bringing into the fold some of those people that I referred to at the outset of my remarks who do not believe that gun control is appropriate and who choose to operate or own guns outside that framework.

I think it is untrue to characterise any of this as a weakening of the current regime. It is certainly a weakening in some areas to accommodate the realities of gun use. It is a strengthening in other areas. I might say that everything in this package is more or less supported by even the gun-owning community of the ACT - sporting shooters and so on - and that has been achieved through the process of the Weapons Control Advisory Committee, which has been used to involve people like the Sporting Shooters Association in the process of discussing these changes.

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