[extropy-chat] FWD [forteana] Re: Gun control [Australia]

Terry W. Colvin fortean1 at mindspring.com
Sat Apr 3 18:02:55 UTC 2004

[Excellent perspectives from a knowledgeable OZ resident... -twc]

At 08:53 PM 2/04/2004 -0500, you wrote:
> >  >>>Either whoever wrote this is a bare-faced liar, or this is some
> >gun-nut usage of "skyrocketed" to mean "reached their lowest level in two
> >decades, having fallen steadily since 1995".<<<
> >
> >A case if who to believe I guess.
>Not really. The claim was that "Britain has all but eradicated
>private gun ownership, and crime figures there have skyrocketed
>also." To reiterate, this isn't true.<<<
>Joe you may be correct, I'm not saying that you're wrong mind you.  I
>attached an article to the message, which you didn't address.  You just say
>it isn't true.  Here is another article.  I'm not even saying that the
>article is true.  All I'm saying is that different people are saying
>different things.  It's great that you say that it isn't true.  Other people
>say it is true.  What's the deal?    -Elliot

Elliot, with all due respect mate . . .

I can't comment on the English side of things, but I am qualified to 
comment on what that moron said about the Australian situation. Even if we 
discount the statistics (and, forgive me if I tend to believe official 
Bureau of Statistics data and the word of criminologists rather than folks 
who bury their guns and bibles in the backyard so thet'll have them when 
the One World Government takes over).

The comment is made that since the new gun laws were introduced into Oz, 
crime rates have gone up 600%. Now even official figures agree that 
reportage of crime has risen over the last 8 or so years (although I doubt 
the 600% figure), but these are all sorts of crime, the great majority of 
which don't involve violence or which wouldn't have been prevented by 
waving a firearm around. These people make these claims but fail to quote 
where their figures are coming from. The 600% is not from official 
government sources, but these sources are the only place you can get the 
information from.

Some local gun nuts claim that you can't rely on government sources. Fair 
enough, if they're the paranoid type I don't expect them to swallow what 
the Servants of the Gnomes of Zurich feed them. Instead they prefer to use 
much more reliable sources : they sift through the daily papers and count 
the number of crimes reported. All newspapers in Oz are either run by 
Murdoch or Fairfax. I don't think I need to go into too much detail here 
about the way newspapers operate, but suffice to say, keeping the 
pensioners scared about going down the shops is what sells papers.

Even if we accept that the stats this guy spews are true, there's a second, 
rather large assumption in operation here : the idea that Oz has suddenly 
become a lawless place because we are suddenly without a means to defend 
ourselves. This is typical (I'm sorry) US assumption that the rest of the 
world operates the way it thinks it operates. I'll say this again, like 
I've said it countless times before (and I'll say it in capitals so that 
the rationality challenged out there can get it) BEFORE THE PORT ARTHUR 
PERSONAL PROTECTION. Firearms were the province of the minority of people 
who lived in rural areas, most of whom used them for legitimate tasks - the 
sort of things farmers use firearms for. In the capital cities (where the 
majority of violent crimes occur), firearm ownership was restricted to a 
small number of weekend warriors and sporting shooters. So according to the 
logic of this latest in the endless stream of US experts on the Oz firearm 
scene, crime in the city was kept in check before the gun buyback scheme 
because criminals were afraid that a bunch of good ole boys would jump in 
the ute and drive the 5 or so hours from Thargomindah to give them a 
whuppin'. Police response times are slow, but . . .

As I said in my previous letter, handguns were always illegal in Oz, so the 
gun buyback would not have had any effect on the crime rate due to the 
presence of pistols - the only folks who had them were the legitimate 
license holders (sporting shooters and the like) and the criminals. After 
the gun buyback, the only folks who have pistols are, surprise, surprise, 
the sporting shooters and the criminals.

I'm writing this from the persepective of someone who has spent all his 
life in Australia (barring short visits to Malaysia, Thailand, New Zealand, 
the UK and France). I have a bit more perspective on this topic than 
someone who has gathered his data from the Oz conspiracy rags. During this 
time I have had contact with the shooting lobby, through my work with the 
wild game meat industry. One of the things that surprised me the most about 
the whole gun buyback thing was how it was universally supported by the 
great majority of responsible shooters. They were, as were we all, 
horrified by the events at Port Arthur. The saw yet another example of how 
their hobby or their livelihood was being dragged through the mud by one 
more isolated incident, an incident which would have more than likely been 
prevented by the restriction of certain types of firearms and more 
stringent checks on who can access firearms.

One thing that really struck me was a conversation I had with professional 
kangaroo shooters. This one bloke said he thanked God for the day the 
government brought in the new restrictions because it made his job so much 
easier. Kangaroos killed for meat are shot and butchered in the field. 
Because they are not killed by the normal abattoir method of the retained 
bolt gun, shooters get more money if they sell a carcase with no bullet 
wounds in the meat sections - the kangaroos are killed by a single shot to 
the head (makes for a nightmarish trip through the loading dock, I can tell 
you). A semi- or even fully automatic weapon is useless in these 
circumstances. However, this guy said that the place is so much safer now 
there are fewer weekend Rambos spraying the countryside with showers of 
lead, and fewer kangaroos coming in with festering bullet wounds which make 
them useless for sale.

I'm sure we can all come up with articles which support or debunk the 
terrible slide that Oz has faced since 1996. Myself, I'm halfway through my 
second bottle of homebrew stout and way beyond caring. Elliot's point 
(forgive my presumption) appeared to be that there seems to be two side to 
the story. Here's the way I see it : you can consider the testimony of 
someone who actually lives in the country mentioned, someone who has 
friends who are shooters and who once worked on an industry which relied on 
shooters, or alternatively you can believe someone from outside the country 
who has a particular barrow to push, who thinks that the only way to stop 
his country from making a terrible mistake is to spread horror stories from 
a remote, hard to verify source who only turns up on the local news when 
one of its khaki clad ambassadors dangles a baby in front of a large 
predatory reptile.

In the meantime, if I can raise a contrasting conspiracy, the real causes 
of crime - poverty induced by casualisation of the workforce, the erosion 
of workers rights and a drop in real wages - are continuing to increase 
under the tutelage of the same conservative leader who brought in the new 
gun regime. How he must love to have a bunch of fellow travellers put all 
the blame on a lack of guns - it'll let him get on with all the important 

We're Forteans folks - we consider all the evidence presented, but we 
examine it all with a critical eye. Dodgy data needs to be ridiculed and 
put in its proper place. Otherwise, here's an alternative viewpoint which I 
fully expect to be given equal time : I declare myself rightful lord of 
this corner of the galaxy and demand tribute from all who dwell within. 
Please make out all cheques to . . .


move over Sloanie - there's a new curmudgeon in town 

"Only a zit on the wart on the heinie of progress." Copyright 1992, Frank Rice

Terry W. Colvin, Sierra Vista, Arizona (USA) < fortean1 at mindspring.com >
     Alternate: < fortean1 at msn.com >
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