The world looks to Australia for a leading stance on gun control, so why change it now?
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton is in talks to create a national ‘firearms advisory council’. The council would exist to review and advise the government on firearms policy, with members of the firearms industry sitting as representatives. The desire to establish a Firearms Advisory Council with members having a pro-gun approach, opens the door for increases in relaxed regulations on gun control in Australia and private industry having an influence within government processes.
Statistics show that countries with high availability of firearms and lax gun regulations have a dramatically higher prevalence of injury and gun-related deaths when compared to countries with strict regulations. In Western Australia in 2016, there were 24 gun-related deaths (Alpers, 2018). Following the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996, Australia has set the international benchmark on gun regulation.
The creation of a firearms advisory council, with the majority of members working for, or having a background in recreational shooting organisations, firearms importers and big political donors, will increase the influence of the firearms industry on the Government and policy makers.
Michael Moore, CEO of the Public Health Association Australia recently voiced his dismay to the proposal, saying “This council would enable the arms industry, which has numerous connections and funding support, to potentially alter Australian gun laws in a way which is beneficial to them but which threatens public health”. Moore then goes on to state, “Instead of actively seeking to give the arms industry a permanent and prominent seat at the table during reviews of Australian gun regulations, the Government should at the very least establish the mechanisms for equal input from public health experts”.
Injury Matters supports the concerns voiced by the Public Health Association of Australia in objecting the creation of the proposed council, as it has potential to influence community safety through increased access to and availability of firearms. Injury Matters Chief Executive Sandy Lukjanowski echoes Moore’s stance, stating that “Preventing gun-related injury in the community should be a priority for all policy makers. The establishment of this council could put community safety at greater risk”.
The world looks to Australia for its leading stance on gun control, which has been effective for over 20 years, so why would we go backwards and change it now?
For more information, view the Public Health Association of Australia’s Firearm Policy; https://www.phaa.net.au/documents/item/1450.
Alpers, Philip, Marcus Wilson, Amélie Rossetti and Daniel Salinas. Western Australia — Gun Facts, Figures and the Law [Internet]. Sydney School of Public Health, The University of Sydney; 2018 May. Available from: http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/western-australia