Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Gun Control and Bonk Bans

Right now, us Australians are feeling a sense of smugness and superiority concerning our gun control laws.

We are enjoying seeing the success of our gun controlled society being hailed around the world as an example of what can be achieved and how communities can become considerably safer.

20 years on from our gun control legislation, it is easy to forget the controversy garnered at the time of the legislation.

The Prime Minister at the time, John Howard, displayed strong and committed leadership to achieve the laws and will always be remembered for doing so. ALP Leader Kim Beasley was the same in supporting the Howard initiative and his contribution should also be acknowledged.

With the passing of the years, we do forget the controversy at the time and the uproar from many at the thought of giving up their guns.

We also forget that such was the fear of violence at one point, the Prime Minister adorned a bullet proof vest when addressing a crowd that was expected to include many gun control opponents.

The laws came after 13 mass shootings over 18 years, and specifically the horror that occurred at Port Arthur.

As smug and superior as we may feel right now, I confess to having strong doubts that such legislation would pass our parliament today or even make it to the floor of parliament.

John Howard had the courage and political good will to push ahead with tough gun control laws. Equally, the opposition had the courage to support the legislation. Howard and Beasley did what was best for the country.

It should be noted, not only were our gun control laws passed with the support of both major federal parties, all State Governments supported the laws too.

Today, I see none of the courage and commitment displayed by John Howard in any of the political leaders that have followed be they Coalition or ALP. I certainly do not see this quality in any of the subsequent Prime Ministers.

Further, in an era where opposing an initiative is more important that the initiative being correct, Opposition Leaders irrespective of which party, would most likely have not supported such action either.

I have doubts about the ability today of State and Federal Governments to agree on anything more complex than what time they are breaking for dinner.

If we had today’s political leadership back in 1996, I doubt if the Gun Control Laws we are almost unanimously proud of would have been legislated and for that, our politicians should be ashamed.

However, we do continue to lead the world in our ways:

We have a “bonk ban”.

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