The Australian Government should follow New Zealand’s lead on consultation with all interested parties when examining the effects of firearm legislation, says Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA) President Bob Green.
Mr Green was one of 120 delegates who attended the International Safety Seminar ‘In the right hands’ in Christchurch last week along with delegates and police forces from the Pacific Islands, SA, Victorian and New Zealand, the New Zealand Government and sports shooting and hunting associations.
The inaugural seminar attracted speakers from the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, including Dr Jenny Mouzos from the Australian Institute of Criminology, Professor Gary Mauser from the Institute for Canadian Urban Research Studies and the US’s Rick Patterson from the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) and the New Zealand Safety Council in charge of firearms safety and hunting programs.
“This was the first time in the Southern Hemisphere that a seminar has been organised by a government to communicate and consult with all interested parties in ensuring firearm safety,” Mr Green said.
“The only proviso was that speakers had to present academically robust research, not opinion pieces. In fact the official motto was ‘solid research, not pious hopes’ - a phrase any good legislation should have at its heart.”
The seminar, partially sponsored by the SSAA, was also praised by the United Nations Director of Peace and Disarmament for Asia and the Pacific, Sutomo Ishiguri. Mr Ishiguri has requested that the seminar’s findings be presented to the United Nations Seminar to be held in June in New York.
Among many of the facts and findings of the seminar was that firearm legislation in New Zealand has failed to reduce the overall suicide rate, and that the common bath and a washing bucket were among the most dangerous items in the house posing a risk to children.
“We don’t have to agree on everything and I doubt we ever will,” Mr Green said. “But if our legislators want to make laws that matter, be they on recreational firearms or any other issue they must be made on fact not just good intentions.
“This seminar was an excellent opportunity that brought together a variety of parties interested in firearm safety and with high quality international speakers with the right qualifications and experience.
“New Zealand has a high per capita ratio firearm ownership and a proud record in safety. This seminar provided us with the opportunity to see how others deal with firearm safety and I strongly urge the government to follow New Zealand’s sensible, round table seminar on firearm safety.