Support for Gun Control

(3.46pm 10 May 2012, Parliament House Sydney)

The Firearms Amendment (Ammunition Control) Bill 2012 will require someone to display evidence that he or she owns a particular type of firearm before that person can buy ammunition for it. It also introduces new requirements for firearms dealers to keep records of details of all ammunition-related transactions. This bill is part of the Government's response to the spate of drive-by shootings in Sydney. It says the change will help stop ammunition ending up in the hands of criminals. I first got involved with gun law reform after five of my constituents were gunned down in their homes in Surry Hills at the Northcott estate in 1990. In 1991, I became the Independent representative on the Joint Select Committee upon Gun Law Reform that led to some reforms. I remember hearing dreadful stories of domestic violence of husbands using guns to threaten their wives and children.

In 1994 Ken Marslew approached the Independents after his son was slain at Jannali and at his request I introduced a bill for a referendum at the 1995 election on the introduction of a registration system and on the banning of guns in homes in urban areas. After the election in 1996 and following the dreadful Port Arthur massacre, I introduced the Firearms Amendment (Community Safety) Bill, which included these reforms as well as a ban on all semiautomatic and military-type weapons in New South Wales. The reforms were consumed in a Government bill that passed and became law. Since then we have seen much watering down of gun control laws. The National Coalition for Gun Control believes that the Firearms Amendment (Ammunition Control) Bill is more a sidestep than a forward step in restoring the necessary controls. It points out that the Firearms Act already restricts the purchase of ammunition to people who hold a licence for that particular type of firearm.

The National Coalition for Gun Control believes that gun reform must urgently address the easy and legal access to semiautomatic handguns that are used in most drive-by shootings because they are easy to hide, and they are light, compact and have high-powered ammunition. I hope the Government looks at ways to do this as well as other reforms that will restrict the amount of ammunition any one person can purchase, and require dealers to notify police if a licence holder purchases a large amount of ammunition. While the Firearms Amendment (Ammunition Control) Bill 2012 introduces only a minor additional control, I support it because it will help improve police awareness about ammunition in the community. Firearm and ammunition possession is not a right of an individual; it is a privilege, and for the sake of the community it must be controlled and monitored closely. I point out that gun control is not about ensuring convenience for law abiding shooters, but about protecting the public from criminal and irresponsible firearm use and preventing bloodshed. I support the bill.

Further Information:
Click HERE to see all contributions to the debate on the Parliament's website.