Op-ed Pieces

Going Down, Down Under


Let's study the horror of what's happening to our Australian, English, Canadian and South African gun owning friends. The Aussies, like us, are a gun owning population; or should we say, were. The Australian continent is a vast, arid land, populated with only 19 million people. It also has an abundance of varmints, a pest problem of major proportions. It is little wonder that practically every rural house contained a firearm, used for the control of these bothersome critters.

The crime rate in Australia has been historically low: 1.8 per 100,000. It is an isolated country with no borders for the illegal to slip across. It has been rightfully referred to as a sleepy, peaceful land. That is, until the leftist government implemented a draconian gun confiscation policy.

For years, the Labor party [socialists] and the Liberals [conservative] were closely balanced-- a six-percent swing one way or the other could change their parliament. A small but vocal group of hard leftists split off and formed the Australian Democrat Party. They held few seats in Parliament; however, they have been mouthy, and the driving force behind the anti-gun movement.

On April 28th 1996, a maniac shot 35 people in Port Arthur. The media went ballistic, screaming about the evil of "assault" firearms. Australians were shocked. Nothing like this had ever happened in sleepy, peaceful Australia. The shrill cry and incessant anti-gun propaganda paid off and, in just 12 days, Federal resolutions were passed and the states enacted them into laws.

What did they enact? Did they just go after "ugly" guns, those military look-alike assault weapons? Think again! They outlawed every semi-auto, even those "pretty" duck guns, the Browning A5 and the Remington 1100's. They even struck down pump shotguns; the Winchester model 12 and the Remington 870 are two examples. The law read "Any pump shotgun with a magazine capacity of 5 rounds or less."

Do you own a Browning BAR rifle? Banned. How about a Winchester Model 100? Out of luck, all semi-auto hunting rifles were outlawed as well. They didn't miss a one.

You may ask, "Surely they left 22's alone, didn't they?" Nope, the criteria the government used was simple. If it's a semi-auto, it's gone. If caught with one of these "illegal" firearms, the crime was considered serious, punishable by multiple years in prison.

The Australian government offered to buy back all of the listed firearms. They then imposed a 1% tax on everybody to raise the money necessary to secure the "illegal" firearms. The massive 500 million buy back program was quickly, but poorly, implemented. Of the estimated 7 million firearms, roughly 40% are now prohibited. Close to 2.8 million firearms should have been surrendered to authorities. Was it a success? Hardly. Less than 25%, or 640,000 weapons, were turned in.

Gun Control and left-wing politicians said great things about the new law. A university of criminology professor stated, "It is probable that the crime rate will drop by up to 20 percent."

Nothing of the sort happened, in fact just the opposite took place. In 1997, just 12 months after the new laws went into effect, across Australia homicides jumped 3.2 percent, armed robberies were up a whopping 44 percent, assaults up 8.6 and in the state of Victoria there was a 300 percent increase in homicides. Prior to the new dictatorial anti-gun laws, statistics showed a steady decrease in armed robberies with firearms; now, there has been a dramatic increase in break-ins, especially against the elderly.

In 1998, in the state of South Australia, robbery with a firearm increased nearly 60 percent. In 1999, new figures reveal that the assault rates in the state of NSW has risen almost 20 percent.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the crime rate for burglary in America is now substantially less than Australia, Canada, and Britain. The data from a comprehensive study from the University of Chicago [Lott, Mustard] showed that in these same three countries, people were home almost half of the time when the burglaries were committed.

In the US, it was less than 13%. Fear of firearms in the American home was the reason given.

Again, in Australia, Canada and Britain, all handguns were already severely controlled. Failure to yearly re-register in a prompt manner could bring law enforcement to the doorstep to confiscate the firearm.

Reasons must be given why anyone needs a license. The government lists only 10 reasons for owning a firearm-- protection of self and family is not considered a "reasonable" request!

Guns aren't the only things prohibited.

In 1998, a new law was passed outlawing an assortment of knives. The fine for owning a classic Bowie knife? Up to $10,000 or two years in the crow bar motel. Owning handcuffs is prohibited. Caught with one of these items, the fine is up to $11,000 or up to 14 years in prison.

Hunting anywhere other than private property is now extremely difficult, where one must have written permission by the owner. One has to acquire a permit from government to hunt on government-controlled land. The Australian government is under no obligation to honor hunting requests and it is common for permits to be refused.

American hunters, especially those who hunt on western public lands-- take notice! Someday soon we will face the same problem on federal and state lands.

The anti-gun movement is the creature of the most radical leftist elements of the world wide socialist movement. The tactics are the same, with only slight propaganda alterations to fit each country. It's not surprising that the internationalist nose of the United Nations poked its way into the gun issue. The Sport Shooters Association of Australia stated that they had been "aware of a connection between the United Nations {UN} and Australia's new so-called 'national' gun laws." Look no further than the UN Security Council's pronouncements; they endorsed sweeping gun control measures, including a ban on private ownership of assault rifles.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for ways to reduce the global stockpile of some 500 million handguns, rifles, shotguns and assault weapons.

We gun owners are not just fighting for our gun rights; we are fighting for all our freedoms. The Second Amendment just happens to be the linch-pin.