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Martin Thackray - 14 October 2014

Martin Thackray made the following comments in Non Agenda Public forum at the Ordinary Council Meeting on 14 October 2014.

Thank you councillors for this opportunity to publicly present my concerns regarding the proposed Variation to the Narooma Huntfest/Arms Fair license.

Before you make your decision whether to approve or disapprove the licence variation I ask you to consider the following. You will have heard some of this before but I would like to address some of the pro-gun lobby responses.

The incidence of domestic violence and the issuing of AVO's has been steadily increasing over recent years. Both locally and nationally.

As a teacher in Narooma for 34 years, I am aware of a number of disturbed, abused, aggressive and violent people in our community.

Gun related crime rises proportionately with the increased availability and acquisition, both legally and illegally, of guns.

A person who can tick all the boxes and pass all the police and mental health checks required to purchase a gun can change. No-one who gives approval for the sale and the purchase can guarantee that the gun owner's circumstances, personal relationships or mental health won't undergo a change for the worse. These changes can occur too quickly to be monitored and acted on.

The pro-gun side often argue that gun crimes are committed by criminals using illegal guns, yet there is no mention of either being involved in the recent tragic shooting of 5 family members at Lockhart.

At this point I can hear another argument so often dragged out by the pro-gun side. That is, if we are going to disallow the sale of things that can kill in anger then why not ban the sale of cars or knives? To me, the answer is obvious. Guns are designed specifically to kill. Guns can be used to kill on the spur of the moment, on a whim, in a fit of despair or an outburst of rage. They require very little training and can be effectively used by young children and the old and decrepit.

I am sure you are aware that 578 registered, legal guns were stolen in NSW, last year. Most from private homes in rural areas. The most popular guns to steal were rifles. There is no guarantee that a gun purchased legally will not be stolen.

I am not trying to suggest this Council should consider banning the sale of guns in our shire by licensed dealers at appropriate outlets. (I personally would like to think that could be possible). I am saying that as our elected representatives, you should totally distance yourselves from any responsibility for having gun ownership promoted and guns being displayed and sold in our community centres. Especially in front of our curious and impressionable children and youth.

If there is a gun related tragedy within our shire you should be able to immediately offer your condolences and support for the victims with a clear conscience.

I accept that statistically, the chances of a gun purchased at the Narooma Huntfest Arms Fair, being misused with horrendous consequences, are small. It is, however, without any doubt, possible. If you do not approve the Huntfest/Arms Fair proposal, then that particular tragedy will remain a statistical impossibility.

Finally Huntfest success $900k without sales of guns – re. claim that guns will add to the success of Huntfest – money leaves with the arms dealers, not in accommodation or other considerations. Guns only visitors – not conclusive to "family" theme.