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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 7 Hansard (26 June) . . Page.. 2592 ..



The notion that guns are just for self-defence or sport has to be put in the balance with the number of deaths in this community and the tragedy of those deaths, whether they are suicide or whether women and children are killed, which is also a too frequent use of guns. This legislation will put checks on storage and place obligations on clubs to keep records of members and of members who maintain active membership. I see this approach as more about a concern for public health rather than crime control, and I support that approach.

Australian Institute of Criminology studies show that, in the majority of cases where firearms are used to commit homicide, the firearms were not registered and the perpetrators were not licensed firearm owners. It can be interpreted as showing that it has to be made difficult for people to obtain firearms illegally. The way you do that, obviously, is to reduce the number of firearms in a community. That has to be the ultimate aim of any legislation.


(4.24): I would like to say a few things in relation to firearms control. From the previous government I am the only minister here who was around in 1996 when the landmark post-Port Arthur legislation, brought in by the Prime Minister, was accepted.

I must declare a couple of things before I speak. I have been a sporting shooter for quite some time. Obviously, I shot in the army. I am a gun owner, I am a member of the 3RNSWR Military Rifle Association and I am a member of the ACT branch of the Sporting Shooters Association. I occasionally get out and have a bit of a shoot on the range and sometimes go out shooting feral animals, too, when I have the chance.

I am therefore fairly well aware of a lot of the issues around pistols. I have also been to one meeting of police ministers where police pistols were quite a contentious issue. Police minister Bob Debus from New South Wales had some interesting concerns, as did the then justice minister, Amanda Vanstone, from the Commonwealth. It was an interesting meeting.

It is true to say that the buy-back in 1996 worked very well. Generally, the prices received were reasonable and fair. Most firearm owners who participated in that-and I was one-were very happy with the arrangements. I think it worked well. Despite some of the worries of legitimate shooters at the time, we have seen a significant drop since then in firearms deaths caused by long arms.

That was because many households had firearms that did not need them and a number of cowboys had them. It was also because of problems with the total lack of secure storage, as much as anything, when persons involved in domestic violence would grab for something like that. Murders amongst people who know each other, and, indeed, murders within the family, make up one of the largest categories of murder in Australia. There was a significant drop there.

With pistols it is a little different. Some figures I saw indicate that deaths by pistol, apart from by criminals, are very rare. That tragedy at Monash was a rarity. I actually wonder why that person was ever issued with a pistol licence and why proper checks were not

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