FAQ's for our friends

"But Australia banned guns in 1996, didn't we fix everything?"

After the 1996 Port Arthur massacre guns weren't banned in Australia, but sensible restrictions, licensing requirements and prohibitions were implemented. One million guns were handed in and destroyed, but have since been replaced with more than one million new ones.

Two decades on there has also been a serious weakening of firearms laws, and research shows that not a single state or territory is fully compliant with the National Firearms Agreement. Protections for safe storage, access to ammunition, proper cooling off periods for gun purchases, minors permits and strict limits on why you can get a gun have all been degraded as our gun laws have gone backwards. 

“Why are you talking about gun control when the number of shootings has gone down?”

Thankfully most violent crime is on a downward trend in Australia, and some of that will be due to changed attitudes towards guns and more stringent licensing. A trend in any direction can quickly change, and we do not agree that this is a time to be complacent.

Right now NSW is on track to have one million registered guns by 2020. Most of this growth in guns isn’t more people getting a one or two guns, it’s about a relatively small number of gun owners getting dozens and dozens of weapons. The data shows that less households own guns but those households that own guns on average own more than 5 of them. 

“I could kill someone with a screwdriver/knife/car/etc, why not ban those?”

Firstly, if your argument starts off with all the ways that you can kill someone that’s not a great sign. But these are all practical things that are used much more broadly and have a purpose other than killing. Guns don’t.

Much like sensible gun control laws there are age restrictions, licensing requirements and sensible prohibitions on operating dangerous machinery like forklifts and motor vehicles. These restrictions, and more, are required to protect us from the dangerous use of guns. We’ve never argued for all guns to be banned and never will. There clearly is a reasonable and limited role for firearms such as for primary producers and law enforcement.

“Why are you publishing my personal information?”  

Suburb level information is not considered “personal information” and is not protected by any kind of privacy laws.

It is also not considered to substantially increase the risk of criminal attacks to produce suburb level information. Criminals work out where private arsenals are by more mundane methods such as listening to talk in a pub, following gun owners home from gun clubs and rifle ranges and identifying regular purchasers from gun shops. The NSW Police released this information, any further concerns can be raised with them.

“Why are you attacking one of the most persecuted minorities in Australia?”

We don’t agree that firearms owners are a persecuted minority, but we also are not attacking them. There are legitimate uses for firearms and we recognise this, but this does not mean the laws themselves cannot be questioned.

Our concerns relate to the fact that gun laws are intended to limit the number of guns in circulation to only those that are necessary. Clearly where people own hundreds of weapons there is something not working in the law.

“Why don’t you concentrate on the criminals instead?”

The existence of criminals using illegal guns doesn’t put gun control laws beyond scrutiny.  Laws are always being improved, and current legal ownership trends can show where changes need to be made, for example the gun that Martin Bryant used at Port Arthur wasn’t illegal at that time, and now it is.

The NSW Police are the appropriate agency to deal with criminal matters, and if you have specific concerns or information about illegal firearms we recommend you contact them directly.

“Why don’t you support mandatory sentencing for firearms offences?”

We assume this refers to the Shooters Bill that would seek to impose mandatory sentencing in NSW. This bill seriously misunderstands how the criminal law works, and the use of firearms in the commission of an offense is already an aggravating factor considered by the courts.

The data shows that minimum sentences have little to no impact on offending - what does help is having strong gun laws and well resourced police. This bill is a diversion and little more.