SSAA National responds to 50something’s questionable opinion piece

SSAA National has continued to hold the media to account regarding the spread of misinformation about our sport by responding to a questionable opinion piece published in the February/March edition of the Nationals Seniors Australia magazine, 50something.

Despite contacting the editor to directly express our concerns, the publication has chosen not to publish our letter in its April/May edition. Read our response to National Seniors Australia chairman David Carvosso’s ‘The Last Word’ column below and scroll to page 10 of the digital magazine to read the article of concern.

I write on behalf of 176,000 sporting shooters and hunters and more than 1 million licensed firearm owners Australia-wide who are fed up with uninformed parrots who have failed to do their research regarding Australia’s firearms laws. Mr David Carvosso’s editorial in the February/March 2016 magazine is a shining example of misinformation.

In his piece, Mr Carvosso failed to clarify that homicides using a firearm were actually on the decline well before the incident at Port Arthur. In fact, ABS data shows that the crude firearm death rate declined from 4.8 deaths per 100,000 in 1980 to 2.6 in 1995. In other words, firearm deaths fell by 46 per cent during the 16-year period before Port Arthur without any drastic changes to firearm laws. Today’s latest figures show that homicide using a firearm equates to 16 per cent of homicide cases; it was 15 per cent in the years leading up to Port Arthur, showing an actual increase.

Furthermore, the independent study by University of Melbourne researchers Wang-Sheng Lee and Sandy Suardi supports the ABS data and further demonstrates that Mr Howard’s gun laws have not had any large effects on reducing firearm homicide or suicide rates, directly contradicting My Carvosso’s comments that “in the almost 20 years since that event, Australian firearm-related murders and suicides have gradually declined.”

Contrary to popular belief, Mr Howard’s response to the Port Arthur tragedy was not something to be “pleased” or “proud” about, as Mr Carvosso proclaims, nor is it wise to compare our experience with the United States which has a completely different political and cultural situation. Our national gun laws were the result of a knee-jerk reaction that showed utter contempt towards the nation’s sporting shooters and recreational hunters and is not as simplistic as Mr Carvosso has made it out to be.

Mr Carvosso also seems to have an issue with expos selling legitimate items and has sensationalised the ability of Americans to purchase firearms at such events. A simple Google search of Virginia’s gun laws shows that a criminal history check is required prior to purchasing a firearm in the state and that a licensed firearm dealer cannot deliver a rifle or shotgun to a non-resident until an approval report is received from the state police or 10 days have gone by. This clearly shows that expo attendees were not purchasing firearms at the gun show as Mr Carvosso implies and we advise against painting an inaccurate picture to suit political opinions.

On a pleasing note, it was refreshing to read Mr Carvosso admit that “Australia’s gun laws are not perfect”. This is something we can agree on, as criminals continue to obtain firearms mainly through illegal imports and organised crime groups turn to new avenues such as the dark web and infiltrating defence bases to steal firearms, even rockets in some cases.

We would like to remind Mr Carvosso that he should not be fearful of an inanimate object and that hunting is Australia’s oldest pastime enjoyed by the young and young-at-heart. This sort of media hype is counterproductive and ignores the real facts about our firearm laws and we respectfully ask for a mature and factual debate going forward.

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