The vilification of hunters continues with NT News Corey Sinclair columnist penning an opinion piece laced with insults and demonstrating a lack of understanding of the Australian hunter psyche. SSAA member and NQ Hunting & Fishing Supplies gunshop’s Anthony Pagan wrote to the NT News, expressing his disgust with the article. Anthony contacted the SSAA and we agreed with him that it would be beneficial to republish his reply to the SSAA membership. Well done, Anthony, for getting up and putting pen to paper. There are many points in his reply that SSAA members would agree with, however we must point out that this is a personal opinion piece.
As an avid hunter, I found the recent opinion piece titled ‘Time to unload soft gun laws’ published in the NT News (March 24, 2015) highly offensive, and an insult to our culture and Australian way of life. I believe it is one of the most unprofessional and misleading pieces of ‘journalism’ I have ever seen published.
Corey Sinclair’s blatant, unprovoked attack on law-abiding hunters and firearm owners lacks any credible source of fact, relies solely on innuendo and lies to support its argument, and borders very closely on slander. The use of his position at the NT News to misinform the general public on the truth about hunting and firearms, in an effort to promote his own personal agenda of banning all private firearm ownership in Australia, is utterly deplorable, and he should be held to account for his unprofessional conduct.
Some of the highly offensive and incorrect statements made in this article are listed below, with a factual reply for each:
Statement: “John Jarratt played crazy gunman Mick Taylor in the Wolf Creek films.”
Fact: This fictional movie has nothing to do with law-abiding hunters or firearm owners, and the use of this picture in the article is entirely inappropriate.
Statement: “...putting more firearms into the hands of slack-jawed rednecks...like their trademark obnoxious stupidity isn’t dangerous enough...”
Fact: These types of childish insults and derogatory comments are very immature, and demonstrate a clear lack of professionalism from the author. In the absence of any factual content in his article, the author has resorted to name calling in an effort to convince his readers to support his misguided ideology.
Statement: “...Greens Senator Penny Wright pointed out; theft from registered owners is one of the key contributors to the illicit gun market.”
Fact: This statement is entirely incorrect and there is no evidence to support this claim. The number of stolen firearms represents 0.05 per cent of the total number of registered firearms in Australia, with this percentage declining, despite an increase in firearm ownership. Illegal imports are widely accepted as the most likely source of illegal firearms, with 25 major shipments being missed by Customs in 2012-2013 alone.
Statement: “Since gun control legislation was introduced after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, the number of annual deaths resulting from firearms in Australia have more than halved from 516 in 1996 to 226 in 2011.”
Fact: The overall trend for firearm-related deaths was declining long before the 1996 gun laws were introduced. Additionally, New Zealand still allows semi-automatic rifles/shotguns and pump-action shotguns for hunting and target shooting, and does not require registration of firearms - yet they too have not had a mass shooting since 1996. This would indicate that the absence of mass shootings is actually due to factors other than stricter gun laws.
Statement: “Should we continue to allow gun levels to grow to even larger levels? Do we need another massacre to make people realise it’s a problem that’s getting worse?”
Fact: There is no evidence to support the claim that ‘more guns equal more mass murders’. It is highly offensive for the author to suggest that law-abiding hunters and firearm owners acquiring more guns is a problem, and will cause a criminal to conduct an illegal act. By this rationale, the author must also believe ‘the more spoons we own, the more likely we are to get fat’.
Statement: “Between 2001 and 2011, 50 Territorians took their own life with a firearm, 11 were murdered, five were shot unintentionally and six for an undetermined reason. That is 72 Territorians who lost their lives in a decade while gun ownership was restricted to license holders.”
Fact: The author fails to clarify whether the firearms used in these deaths were legal (or stolen) and those who were operating them were licensed (or criminals). While any loss of life is regrettable, 72 lives over 10 years is a very small number, given our population. By comparison, 233,622 Australians died from Ischaemic heart diseases during this same period.
Additionally, the Northern Territory has the highest per capita rates of gun ownership in Australia, but the lowest rate of firearm related crime - with zero deaths between 2010 and 2012, despite 57,804 legal firearms owned by 13,000 licence holders.
Statement: “Do we really want to turn back the clock and start the process of turning Australia into a mini-US?”
Fact: Comparing American and Australian firearm statistics is impossible, due to both countries having significant differences in licensing requirements, mental healthcare policies and constitutional rights such as the Second Amendment.
Long-term comparisons between Australia, New Zealand and Canada act as a better guide to measure the success of firearm legislation, due to their similar social histories. Canada and New Zealand still permit the use of firearms banned in Australia in 1996, and New Zealand does not require registration of all firearms, yet both countries also demonstrate similar declines in firearm homicide, suggesting strict firearm regulations in Australia have had no significant impact on crime, and the decline is due to other factors.
Statement: “Martin Bryant killed 35 people in the Port Arthur massacre.”
Fact: This convicted criminal, who was unlicensed and in possession of illegally acquired firearms, has nothing to do with law-abiding hunters or firearm owners, and the use of his picture in this article is entirely inappropriate.
Statement: “Man Haron Monis was behind the Sydney Siege.”
Fact: Once again, this criminal, who was unlicensed and in possession of illegally acquired firearms, has nothing to do with law-abiding hunters or firearm owners, and the use of his picture in this article is entirely inappropriate.
Statement: “Monis was not a registered gun owner, yet he somehow managed to obtain one of what an inquiry into illicit weapons has estimated to be about 260,000 black market guns on the streets of Australia.”
Fact: Estimates on the number of illegal firearms in circulation vary significantly, however there is no credible data available to state with any certainty how many currently exist in Australia.
Statement: “But when it comes down to it, those hostages were put in that position because of an angry man with a firearm, just like Bryant’s 35 victims.”
Fact: It is unknown if these criminals were motivated by anger, suffering mental health problems, or just violent people. However, what is known for certain is that Australian firearm laws (both pre and post 1996) did nothing to prevent either of them from committing acts of violence against innocent people. The concept is quite simple: criminals do not follow the law, and creating new laws for law-abiding firearm owners will not solve the problem.
Statement: “The argument that guns are for hunting just doesn’t cut it for me anymore.”
Fact: Guns are required in society for a variety of reasons - including hunting. Recreational hunters contribute more than $1 billion to the economy each year and provide valuable assistance in feral animal control 24 hours a day, seven days per week, 365 days a year - at no cost to the taxpayer.
Statement: “It only takes one nut job, one home robbery or one slip of the trigger to take a life.”
Fact: Hence, why we have a licensing system that does background checks, has mandatory safety courses and storage requirements as part of its requirements.
Statement: “And let’s not forget that killing animals is actually a sign of a person being a sociopath. The majority of the boys who went on shooting rampages in American schools had histories of killing animals, as did serial killers Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy.”
Fact: For this accusation to be considered fact, it would mean there are more than 300,000 sociopathic serial killers loose in Australia today - yet not one of them has committed a mass shooting rampage at their local school. The author’s attempt to vilify law-abiding hunters and shooters by comparing them to serial killers is absolutely appalling.
Statement: “Gun restrictions lowered death rates but also increased firearm numbers on the black market. Removing restrictions will be just as detrimental, making it even easier for wannabe killers to get them. The only way to fix the problem is to eradicate public use of firearms in Australia.”
Fact: Evidence has shown that gun restrictions did not lower death rates - they have been in overall decline since 1979. Restricting law-abiding firearm owners to certain types of firearms does not limit the types of guns criminals can acquire. Legal firearm owners are required to pass continuous scrutiny - far greater than the average citizen - and removing firearms from the public altogether would not only be impractical, but it would still not stop criminals from acquiring illegal guns.
Statement: “The topic of gun ownership will always be polarising, with the debate dominated by a vocal minority, who claim it is their God-given right to tote man-killing apparatuses and hunt animals for sport.”
Fact: Hunting is the chosen past time of many people in Australia, for a variety of reasons. We hunt because we like to test our skills as a hunter against the instincts of our chosen animal. We hunt because it puts food on the table, and protects our crops and livestock. We hunt because it assists in the protection of native fauna and flora from feral animals. We hunt because the outdoor experience is part of our upbringing, culture and Australian way of life.
It may surprise the author to learn that 700,000 to 900,000 licensed firearm owners and more than 300,000 active hunters actually form the silent majority in Australia, and it is the antis who are the vocal minority. However, many of us simply choose not to force our views and opinions on others.
Statement: “...the real God-given right is the chance to live a full life without the fear of being shot down by a maniac at the local cafe. Do we really want to live in an Australia where one is constantly looking over their shoulder in fear of a bullet?”
Fact: Law-abiding firearm owners are not the source of firearm-related crime in Australia, and removing our guns will not disarm criminals, nor will it stop them from committing acts of violence.
I personally would much rather see an Australia where licensed individuals are allowed to use firearms for self defence in their homes, and those who have demonstrated acceptable conduct with Class A and B firearms over a period of time are permitted to conceal carry handguns for protection of themselves and others. If this was implemented, criminals may then begin think about the potential consequences of their actions before committing a break and enter or assaulting an old age pensioner. To quote Robert Heinlein, “An armed society is a polite society”.
Overall, this article lacks any form of integrity, factual basis for its radical left-wing arguments, honestly or similarities to professional journalism. The NT News should be ashamed to publish such an abusive and inciting opinion piece that fails to present a valid, logical argument.
Perhaps if the author had taken the time to put down his skinny soy latte and actually converse with hunters, he may have begun to understand what actually happens in the real world, outside the university walls and metropolitan city limits.
The author has used the NT News to publicly attack law-abiding hunters and shooters simply because he doesn’t agree with our culture and way of life - the Australian way of life - and he should offer his unreserved apology to the hunting community.