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Anne Cormick - 11 November 2014

Anne Cormick made the following comments in Non Agenda Public forum at the Ordinary Council Meeting on 11 November 2014.

My name is Anne Cormick and I live in the Deua River valley. I am a mother and grandmother and through my work as a physiotherapist have met many of the shire's residents who share my concerns about the proposed Arms Fair. I live on a small bush property and my husband has registered firearms which he occasionally has to use to euthanase injured wildlife.

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Today I am asking you, in representing us, to stand back from positions you may have already come to regarding the amendment proposing to sell Guns at Huntfest in the Narooma Sports and Leisure Centre. Please, will you look again at the dangers and consequences of the inevitable increase of gun ownership and usage in Eurobodalla if you pass this amendment? 

I've looked at much information on the dangerous side of firearm consequences relating to increased gun possession and found, and Philip Adler of Sydney University, the most complete and soundly based authority on this subject.

Following the 1996 National Firearms Agreement Australia's gun licensing laws were tightened and national registration established. The result has been a reduction of more than 50 percent in the number of gunshot victims.

However, if we look today at gun numbers, the number of privately owned firearms, legal and illegal, held by civilians in Australia is estimated to be around 3,050,000.  In 2001 private firearm ownership was estimated at 11 per 100 people but in 2012 it had risen to 15 per 100 people, and is on the rise.

In Australia there were 4 times as many gun deaths in 2013 as there were in Britain, which has a population of 64 million. Possibly relevant to these statistics is that the UK has an extensive practical examination for firearms competency, but Australia does not.

Let's look at some of the possible consequences.

Looking just at gun homicides in 2011 in each of our states, NSW topped the list, then Victoria, (South Australia, W A, Queensland and then nil in the others.)

According to medical and criminological opinion, the main factor behind gun related

Crime is gun availability. Studies in the USA and Europe show that firearm homicide

rates correlate with gun ownership or availability . In Switzerland the rate of gun related homicides is 4 times higher than Australia because the Swiss have National Military Service, and extensive reservists which means there are guns in most homes.

Most homicides are committed on the spur of the moment. If someone is very angry they will use whatever weapon they can get their hands on, and if that happens to be a gun rather than a knife, it 'substantially increases the probability that death, rather than injury, will be the end result' (Chappell et al. 1988, p. 1).

As the Australian Coalition for Gun Control noted:

"The use of a gun requires considerably less proximity, strength, agility and skill and offers less opportunity for self-defence, than does the use of a knife or other weapon."

There is substantial agreement amongst those in favour of strict gun laws. Experts such as the National Committee against Violence, and concerned organisations (Gun Control Australia, New South Wales Domestic Violence Committee and so on) all agree that the main aim of gun controls should be to reduce the number of firearms in Australian society. It is important to prevent access to firearms by people with a propensity for violent crime or other misuse. Despite the rhetoric of freedom and rights invoked by the gun lobby, there is no constitutional right in Australia to bear arms,

According to some, however, there are significant political barriers to reform. The political strength of the Australian pro-gun lobby is sometimes compared to that of the National Rifle Association in the USA. But who is the gun lobby in Australia? The Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA) is the most vocal group. The other main identified group within the so-called gun lobby, are the farmers. An analysis of farmers' views on gun controls fails to agree on a position with the Sporting Shooters Association. Many farmers are strongly in favour of very restrictive gun laws. They are well-aware of the stock costs, personal danger and property damage suffered at the hands of irresponsible weekend shooters.

Did you know that in Australia the maximum penalty for contravening the Game and Feral Animal Control Act is only $550, compared to U K, where it is $36,500 in extreme cases of cruelty.

In our shire the display and sale of guns in a festival atmosphere will attract our youth and those who might never have previously considered gun ownership, even though our South Coast Shooters Club has high standards of safety and abides by the rules. We know that increased gun availability leads to increased violent crime.  We know that minors' permits and gun licences are easily obtained if you just sign up to a shooters club, and have no previous record that might disqualify you.  If you combine alcohol or drugs with guns you create further risk of thoughtless violence both to humans and to animals. Think also of the stressed family member, or youth who may in a moment of alcohol fuelled violence pick up a firearm, commit a crime, and ruin lives. Think of young people with depression who might use a gun to suicide.

Lastly, even registered firearms sold to legitimate licensed owners are sometimes stolen, especially in rural areas, and openly raising gun availability will increase that likelihood and may well raise the crime rate in our shire.

So please revisit your decisions concerning this amendment. The residents of Eurobodalla look to you to maintain our safe environment on the Nature Coast. As we all know, 80% of residents who made submissions are opposed to an Arms Fair in Narooma.

In a sea of web sites offering unverified, polarised opinions on gun violence, provides evidence-based, country-by-country intelligence from a broad range of official and academic sources. This university of Sydney site is for researchers, officials, journalists and advocates who need accurate citations and rapid access to credible sources.

I also quoted from " Firearms Law Reform: the Limitations of the National approach".

Dr Sandra Egger and Rebecca Peters. Law School. UNSW.

Further information:

In response to Councillor Harding's question, I have established that there is no eyesight test required for a Firearms Licence. This is in addition to there being no practical competency test for a Firearms Licence.

Council's Response 

 Council has not yet provided a response.