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Kathy Thackray - 23 September 2014

Kathy Thackray made the following comments in Non Agenda Public forum at the Ordinary Council Meeting on 23 September 2014.

Good afternoon councillors. I am here this afternoon to address you all as the elected leaders of our community. I urge you to consider "What is the big picture?" "Who is promoting gun purchases in Australian society and why?"

Through my research, I have come to realise that Narooma Huntfest is part of a huge change that is happening in Australian society. After the 1996 Port Arthur massacre and the gun buyback- gun ownership reduced incredibly in Australia. Over the following 20years, Australia became an increasingly safer society.

However, are you aware that guns dealers in the USA are seeing a 20% downturn in sales and that they are searching for new markets for their guns? In May this year, Smith and Wesson ( conic gun dealer) sold for $45 million. It had been purchased for $112 million 14 years ago!! The number of gun dealers in the states is down to 2/3rds. The gun industry is working hard to attract a new generation of buyers.

The NRA is assisting its gun dealers, manufacturers and exporters in any way it can. As you would have heard, NSW MP for Shooters and Fishers Party, Robert Borsak is a great admirer of the NRA. He thinks our gun laws are stupid. He is doing whatever is within his power to promote gun sales in this country. His new campaign manager has worked on election campaigns in the USA. Borsak proudly boasts on their election 2015 on-line campaign that they have secured the new Hilltop range in south Sydney. That they have negotiated over $10million in government funding to develop shooting sports in NSW and that shooting clubs have received $6.5million in grants. We also know that there were 2 new Arms Fairs in NSW this year- the other one at Bathurst.

Gun sales are up in Australia. Gun ownership figures obtained under freedom of information by GCA and supplied exclusively to The Daily Telegraph show there are nearly 701,000 firearms registered to private owners in NSW - almost one for every 10 people in the state.

But I ask you all, WHY? And is this really good for our society? Gun homicides, accidents and deaths had all dropped in our country with the reduction in gun numbers. Now we have people with no knowledge or understanding, going out and buying guns! Farmers taught their kids to respect firearms. Now you have people buying guns who have spent the last 30years playing shoot-ups on computer games and thinking that makes them qualified to teach their 12 year old how to shoot. Unfortunately few get involved in the safety courses that are on offer.

We follow the USA lead so often- whether into war or insurance claims. But many in the US feel helpless to change their gun usage. They all live in fear. But there is an upsurge of protest there too. In a short time last night I found 20 facebook sites for groups opposing their gun laws and afraid of gun violence. Everytown for Gun Safety has 537,000 followers. Check out: Take Aim on the NRA; Protest Easy Guns; Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense; Artists, Writers, Musicians, Dancers and other sane people against guns...... In Australia at this stage we do not have so many organisations trying to oppose guns. It has not got to the situation they have in the USA and with our different constitution it hopefully never could.

BUT, how many guns in society is too many? And how many laws are going to be whittled away. The Shooters and Fishers Party in their re-election campaign for next year proudly claim to have introduced 40 firearms legislation changes.

If you grant the sale of firearms in Narooma next year, Don't you think the new gun owners will want to go hunting somewhere locally while they are here?

930 local residents were recently game enough to sign a petition against gun sales here. I say game enough because there was a lot of intimidation. The SAFE group petitioned in most shopping centres in the shire but when they were at Narooma, a couple of local hunters didn't like a poster we had up and a photo of it was posted onto Narooma Huntfest facebook site. A flood of comments followed urging people not to shop at Narooma Plaza- and to boycott all the stores there. The post was shared by about 90 people. This is bullying and intimidation. People who had petitions in their shops were verbally abused by hunters. But 930 signatures out of a voting population of about 19,000 is quite a lot don't you think?

There is a great saying- Think globally- act locally! You can't change federal or state politics but you can influence the number of guns in our shire. You have the right- in fact, as our elected councillors, you have the role of shaping our society.

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