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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 13 Hansard (5 December) . . Page.. 4443 ..

MS FOLLETT (continuing):

But, Mr Speaker, if I could speak just briefly, it is still my view that firearms in our community should be very much the exception rather than the rule. I believe that in the ACT, whilst we have always had pretty strong gun laws, we also have a fairly sorry history of the use of guns for crime in our community. We have only recently had two people sentenced for a murder which involved firearms. I am sure that members will be aware that perhaps one of the most shocking aspects of that crime was the extreme youth of the offenders involved. In fact, Mr Speaker, the crime occurred while at least one of them - I think, two of them - were minors. It is very sad indeed to find, even in a community like the ACT, where I am quite sure there is a universal wish to control guns, that such a crime could still be committed and that people, even though they are extremely young, would still have access to firearms and be able to use them to commit an extremely serious crime of murder.

So, Mr Speaker, it is my objective to see as few guns in our community as possible. If I thought it were possible, I would ban them completely. I know that that is not possible because, for some people, firearms form a part of their sporting life, their cultural life and so on. So, the Bills do make provision for the legitimate use of firearms in those sorts of circumstances. The Bills still place very severe restrictions upon even sporting shooters, and I believe that that is appropriate. I do not think it is in any way a difficulty for people who are genuine sporting shooters to prove that. Indeed, I think our community would require that that be the case. The provisions that we have before us are quite onerous on sporting clubs. I think that is entirely appropriate.

Mr Speaker, I also think it is appropriate that the registrar have some discretion over the issue of licences. The registrar ought to be able to make a judgment about whether a person is a fit and proper person and about whether there is a community safety or public interest question to be considered in the issuing of licences. I also think it is entirely appropriate that, for a person who has had a domestic violence or restraining order of some sort placed against them, the question be asked - and asked over and over - whether that person is an appropriate holder of a licence at all.

So, Mr Speaker, I will be supporting the legislation. I hope that the legislation will be matched with sufficient resources in the implementation and the policing areas, so that we do not see a black market developing, but that we do see very strict gun laws being adequately upheld within our Territory. I also think that there is some point in having a degree of uniformity in the gun laws, particularly between the ACT and the surrounding territory of New South Wales. Indeed, the Bills in many respects reflect that sort of uniformity. I understand that many shooters, particularly hunters, conduct the greater part of their shooting activities outside the ACT. I am very pleased to know that, Mr Speaker. But I think that does argue for a greater degree of uniformity than might otherwise have been the case.

Mr Speaker, I think it is incumbent on the Assembly to continue with our bipartisan approach - or our multipartisan approach, might I say - on the question of gun control, because there is no doubt in my mind that all of us in this Assembly share a common view that guns must be permitted only to a privileged few people who can be trusted to use them responsibly and that, if there is any question about the responsible use of firearms,

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