The Australian Greens Party’s latest attempt to propagate its anti-gun ideology has provoked a swathe of senators to reveal their supportive views on private firearms ownership. A debate about ‘The need to strengthen our firearms laws to reduce gun violence’ was raised as a matter of public importance in the red chamber on March 21, with the SSAA Legislative Action department keeping a watchful eye on the discussion.
It came as no surprise to the SSAA that rogue Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon ignited the debate. However, her extreme views and attacks on the inclusion of youth in our sport were quickly challenged by many senators that rightly rely on evidence and facts instead of emotion and philosophies to shape their views.
Sports Minister Senator Bridget McKenzie was the first on her feet to speak out against inflammatory statements made by Ms Rhiannon. “The reality is that over a million Australians are law-abiding firearm owners who proudly protect their homes and property, hunt for food and are sporting shooters,” the Nationals Senator said. “The tragedy of gun violence on the streets of Melbourne and Sydney and throughout Australia is not as a result of law-abiding firearm owners... What will result in greater gun violence is illicit and illegal firearms in the hands of criminals.”
Outspoken Senator David Leyonhjelm took the opportunity to present some facts about our gun laws. “Nobody bothers to compare us with countries such as New Zealand that continue to have gun laws resembling those that were found in Australia before 1996 but that, like us, continue to see falling gun deaths,” the Liberal Democrats Senator said. “Yet the assumption is made that, if we relaxed our gun laws to be more like those in New Zealand or Switzerland, we'd end up like America, not like New Zealand or Switzerland. It’s an absurd assumption.”
New independent Senator Fraser Anning rationally approached the debate, saying: “Increasing the already chokingly restrictive gun controls isn’t going to change the outcomes for our nation. We need a clearer focus on those who commit crimes, not more firearm controls.” Pauline Hanson’s One Nation were also quick to blast the “demonising of law-abiding gun owners” and bluntly stated that the “bashing of gun owners must stop.”
Perhaps the best line from the debate came from new Liberal Senator Jim Molan: “If the Greens want to be taken seriously, I would encourage them to produce a business case, to refine what they're talking about. There could be a case that, if you irrationally tighten up laws on guns and you force those guns underground, you in fact make the situation a lot worse.”
With a federal election on the horizon, the Greens might want to stop attacking one million Australians who participate in a legitimate activity and instead reflect on the party’s latest poor election results. In South Australia, the Greens vote fell two per cent to capture just 6.7 per cent of the primary vote; in Tasmania, they polled their lowest result in years, losing 3.5 per cent of their usual vote.
In comparison, the shooting sports continue to attract new participants to our safe, fun and all-abilities activity, with the SSAA’s membership steadily growing. In 2018, there is a real chance that extreme ideological driven groups like the Greens will become increasingly irrelevant.