Gun Politics in Australia

Shooting has been a legitimate activity in Australia for many years. Hundreds of gun clubs exist as do gun traders. Hopes for an independent thinking Australian gun lobby were badly affected when in the early 1990′s the largest gun group, the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA) developed a tight political relationship with one the world’s most extremist gun organisations, the National Rifle Association of America (NRA). Unfortunately this relationship and the SSAA’s long association with the gun trade has meant that gun politics in Australia is often driven by the gun rights debate instead of recreational issues or public safety. This said the Australian shooting fraternity has many people supporting it and is sufficiently organised to well present its arguments to the public and politicians.

1. History
1.1 Settlement to Federation – A British base
1.2 1900′s to 1986 – Gun numbers rise/ Gun problems rise
1.3 1987 to 1990 – Gun massacres force gun problems to be considered/ Shooters become politicised
1.4 1991 – Political confrontation between public and shooters/ Shooters further politicise
1.5 1992 to 1997 – Port Arthur gun massacre and National Agreement on Gun Laws (for long guns)
1.6 1998 to 2005 – Handguns enter the debate in two different ways

2. Gun Problems – Australia Compared

3. The Nature of the Australian Gun Politics Debate
3.1 The Public and the Broader Gun Control Movement
3.2 Gun Control Groups
3.3 Gun Groups and Their Support Base

4. Future

5. Websites of Interest

1.History

1.1 Settlement to Federation (1788 to 1899) – A British Base

As British Colonies Australia inherited much of its early gun controls from prevailing British political attitudes and the fact that the initial settlements were convict based. The role of guns in maintaining law and order in a penal colony must be acknowledged. Despite the harsh treatment of convicts there is also little doubt that guns in the hands of troops contributed to the survival of early convict settlements at Sydney and Hobart. Not surprisingly and according to Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA) spokesperson Paul Peake in 1796 Govenor Hunter declared the all guns in the colony of NSW must be registered; further in 1802 Govenor King declared that except for the military and officials each house must contain no more than one musket.

There is, we would argue, little doubt that guns were used improperly by troops and free settlers to the detriment of the aboriginal population. Indeed the indigenous population of Australia would have had little reason to be happy with the introduction of guns onto their continent. The treatment received by aboriginies at the most famous of the so-called frontier wars ‘Battle Mountain’ near Cloncurry may have shown Europeans the value of guns over spears but it is also a disgrace to white settlement generally. The clash on the expanding frontier took place for over 100 years – unless ultimate control is the arbiter there is little honour that Europeans can derive from it.

As increasing numbers of free settlers came to Australia the frontier further expanded and the economy prospered. Guns were by necessity used as a source of food. Some of early Australia’s most famous names (Ned Kelly, Captain Thunderbolt) are known for their daring exploits in ‘hold-ups’. Here the value of guns depends on whether you are assailant or victim. Some would argue that guns were used honourably but without immediate success by miners at the Eureka Stockade.

Further Reading: Students should examine pages 1 to 57 of Chris Coulthard-Clark’s book The Encyclopaedia of Australia’s Battles for details of this period. The debate on treatment of aboriginies in the Australian colonies is discussed in many articles and books by historians Henry Reynolds, Geoffry Blainey and Keith Windschuttle.There are many good references available on the web under these historians names. The SSAA website, www.ssaa.org.au presents the views of many shooters. Open the section titled, Australian Shooters Journal (ASJ).

1.2 1900 to 1986 – Gun Problems Increase but Politicians Largely Ignore Them

Four aspects of this period are of special note

(a) Commonwealth Constitution

The Australian constitution became a reality when in 1900 the colonies federated to form the commonwealth. Gun laws were not mentioned in the constitution when the division of power and responsibility took place between the states and commonwealth. Under such circumstances the power to enact gun controls fell to each of the six states. Thus matters of state soverignity allowed different sets of gun laws to develop throughout Australia and state pride became a factor in that development. Above all, the retention of gun laws to state hands meant that the serious study of gun laws had no guiding hand because many gun problems could be blamed on others. Gun laws were few during this entire period. Under these circumstances it is not surprising that guns, gun traders and gun clubs flourished. There was, however, a period following the second world war when the total annual gun death figure rose to 700.

(b) Handguns

The states introduced moderately strict controls on handguns in the early 1920′s. Unlike America British laws treated handguns as being the preferred choice of criminals and thus stricter controls existed on them. By adopting the British attitude Australia avoided the tragic consequences which US handgun policy has created in that country. In Australia self defence is not sufficient reason to own a gun – it is thus the state’s obligation to provide a safe environment.

(c) Gun Deaths

An examination ot the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures and Professor Richard Harding’s 1981 book Weapons and Violence in Australian Life shows that the development of an increased gun inventory took place in the post World War 2 period. It was also a period when gun deaths increased.

By 1986 there were perhaps four million privately owned guns in Australia and on average about 700 yearly gun deaths. Unlike the US most of these deaths resulted from misuse of long guns not handguns. The post war years saw hunting became a more common pastime. Gun laws were in the hands of the six states and two territories and in the case of most long guns were both weak and showed great variation from one jurisdiction to the next.

Victoria had introduced a shooters licence in 1973 as a result of the shooting deaths of two 15yo girls but it lacked serious purpose. Long gun registration hardly existed throughout Australia despite the high gun death rate. Attempts to deal with the high rate of gun deaths met with little support from the Liberal and National Coalition Parties; this could probably be blamed on the National Party which, representing country interests, felt that there should be few controls on long guns. The Liberal Party, however, in Western Australia had introduced better gun controls and the Cain Labor government in Victoria had appreciably improved that state’s gun laws in 1983.

(d) The Rosvoll and Bacsa Families Contribution

The Australian community became highly involved in the gun debate for the first time in 1971-2. Two migrant families, the Rosvoll’s from Norway and the Bacsa’s from Hungary suffered the deaths of their 15 year old daughters in two separate incidents in rural Victoria. The culprits were not criminals but sporting type shooters who carelessly and callously used their rifles to target the girls. The parents lobbied Victorian politicians to improve the almost non-existent laws on rifles and shotguns. In 1973 the Hamer government introduced the Shooters Licence. Although weak by today’s standards it was a crucial breakthrough because for the first time in Australia the community became involved in gun politics.

Further Reading: Richard Harding’s 1981 book Weapons and Violence in Australian Life (University of Western Australia Press, Nedlands) reviews the import of guns and other important matters. John Crook’s MA thesis The Development and Influence of the Australian and American Gun Lobbies (Monash University 1988) also examines the breakdown of gun imports and other matters relevant to this section. Useful statistics are shown in books The ABC of Gun Control by Abrahams O. Bednarz A. and Crook J. and A Students Course in Gun Control by Collins R. and Crook J. These are published by Gun Control Australia Inc, Melbourne.

1.3 1987 to 1990 – Politicians Start to Take Gun Problems Seriously

1987 changed the way the public and politicians viewed guns because in that year 32 died in six gun massacres.It is completely incorrect to think these were casual or spree shootings: Each was planned and most were perpetuated by shooters with legally held guns. These six gun massacres and the political consequences are examined in the Gun Control Australia book Gun Massacres in Australia.

Perhaps the two best known of the six gun massacres took place near central Melbourne – at Hoddle Street and Queen Street. The 15 deaths were caused by frustrated gun owners who might be considered as sporting type shooters gone wrong.

The Victorian government acted quickly to introduce scricter gun laws but the Sporting Shooters Association led gun lobby arranged a march of 27,000 shooters through the streets of Melbourne in an effort to stop the proposed laws. Better laws were introduced into Victoria and to some extent these influenced the production of improved laws in other states. The march drew atention to the fact that organised shooters groups will oppose improved gun laws regardless of their necessity for public safety.

Importantly, the Hawke ALP federal government established a National Committee on Violence (NCV) to obtain professional criminological advice as well as gauge public opinion on various violence problems in society. The NCV presented its report in 1990. Gun Registration and controls on high-powered rifles were among the 20 recommendations referring to guns. These reforms could be called the second turning point towards better gun laws – like the first turning point they were driven by public outrage towards gun misuse and poor gun laws.

Further Reading: Gun Massacres in Australia by Crook J. Harding A and Abrahams O.(Gun Control Australia Inc 1998) provides an overview of Australian gun massacres till the end of the 1990′s. The 1990 report by the National Committee on Violence titled Violence:Directions for Australia (Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra ACT) marks a turning point in the gun debate.

1.4 1991 – Strathfield – The Third Turning Point Toward Better Gun Laws – Political Confrontation Heightens

No study of gun politics in Australia is complete without special mention being made about the consequences of the gun massacre in Sydney’s Strathfield shopping mall in 1991. When Wade Frankum shot indiscriminately to kill six people with an easily obtained ex-military semi-automatic rifle the Liberal led NSW Coalition government under Nick Greiner tried to put the matter aside. Public outrage was backed by intense media support and the matter of gun laws became a major debate. An all-party parliamentary committee was formed to examine gun laws.It was titled the ‘NSW Select Committee Upon Gun Law Reform’.

A few months before the massacre the NSW police minister Ted Pickering had introduced a new set of gun laws into NSW which well suited the gun lobby. Following the massacre the Police Commissioner put those laws on hold. By the end of the year the Select Committee had made its extensive report and the NSW parliament had decided on a replacement set of stricter gun laws to become operative early in 1992.

Many gun groups reacted strongly to these changes because it was clear that the public was becoming increasingly opposed to guns. The super-extremist pro-gun Lock, Stock and Barrelmagazine went wild with criticism of the changes and raised the idea of a conspiracy. The changes appear to have been the impetus for a Sydney based group of pistol shooters to initiate the Shooters Political Party while the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA) took actions which laid the foundation for the tight arrangements between that group and the extremist National Rifle Association of America (NRA).

The combined effect of the 1987 and 1991 gun massacres was enormous. Together they raised public consciousness about the danger of guns and are the basis of the alienation between activist gun proponents such as the SSAA and the vast majority of Australians who shared a common interest in public safety. These feelings were to manifest themselves even more strongly when the irresponsible Tasmanian gun laws were put on trial with the 1996 Port Arthur gun massacre.

Further Reading: NSW Select Committee Upon Gun Law Reform’s Report of the Committee was published by the NSW Parliament in 1991. It is crucial reading. Gun Massacres in Australia (see Further Reading 1.3) is also useful.

1.5 1992 to 1997 – Port Arthur Gun Massacre and National Agreement on Gun Laws/ Conspiracy Theory Developed

The Tasmanian police minister did Australians a grave injustice when in 1991-2 during a review of that state’s gun laws he decided to follow the wishes of gun clubs and not introduce gun registration and other controls. Tasmania’s irresponsible gun laws did not make it difficult for Martin Bryant to obtain guns and go on to kill 35 and wound 19 others at Tasmania’s Port Arthur tourist precinct in April 1996. Earlier that year six innocent adults and children had been shot dead by gun enthusiast Peter May in the Brisbane suburb of Hillcrest. In total the gun deaths made Australian politicians realise that much stricter gun laws were needed and that the laws should be uniform throughout the states and territories. Students should examine the Sydney and Melbourne newspapers in late April and May 1996 to gain an awareness of the intensity of public feeling about the horror of the massacre, the misuse of guns and the weakness of our gun laws.

To its credit of the Howard Coalition government took the lead in trying to define what form the stricter gun laws should take and usher those laws throught the appropriate body, the Australasian Police Ministers Council. It is fortunate for the public that deputy PM and leader of the National Party, Tim Fischer, supported the proposed gun laws. Some Nationals, like Queensland’s Bob Katter, or the independent MP for Kalgoorlie Graeme Campbell ridiculed them.Perhaps leading National Party members had begun to take note of the failure of gun lobbyists to gain them votes when the Victorian National Party enrolled leading shooters and gun traders in 1988 in the hope of winning seats in the state election – they dismally failed.

The fourth turning point toward responsible gun laws, the National Agreement on Gun Laws, had been solidified by the end of 1997 and although not all states and territories then enacted the exact model the fact is that from 1998 till today all six Australian states and both territories have controls on long guns which have come about from the Port Arthur gun massacre. Put in their simplest form these laws say that gun owning is a privelige not a right; all guns must be registered, semi-automatic shotguns and rifles are strictly controlled, guns are to be stored with some care and a 28 day cooling-off delay for gun purchases is operative. Two blatant weaknesses in the new laws were their failure to vastly improve shooter training and their failure to improve handgun controls.

Major gun groups like the Sporting Shooters Association were true to form, they did all they could to prevent the new laws being enacted. The more extremist leaders like the SSAA’s president Ted Drane became involved in a political party called the Australian Reform Party and an alliance between this party and Graeme Campbell’s Australia First Party looked ominous.

From a political perspective mention must be made of the major conspiracy theory which emerged after the Port Arthur gun massacre. Irritated by the new gun controls many shooters started to argue that the massacre was a ‘set-up’ and that so many had died that an inexperienced shooter like Martin Bryant could not have been the culprit. This theory contends that governments had pre-arranged the shooting so that stricter gun laws could be introduced: the secret reason for the plan was suggested to be the need to cooperate with assumed understandings made with the UN to remove guns from private hands. Mr Joe Vialls from Perth extensively promoted this absurd and irresponsible plan on a website. Other gun extremists grasped at the logic to explain-away the need for stricter gun laws.

This period also saw the rise of the Pauline Hanson’s One Nation political party. The pro-gun extremism of this party deserves special attention. The One Nation policy would have allowed most guns (including ex-military rifles) to be available and very few gun controls. It appears that extremist pro-gun groups such as the Queensland Firearm Owners Association and the owners and some contributors to the magazine, Lock Stock and Barrel were allowed to advise the One Nation gun policy. The party’s successes were in the mid to late 1990′s but by 2002 the party appears to have self-destructed. Some activist gun groups aligned themselves with the successes of One Nation, thus making their extremism overt.

Further Reading: Simon Chapman’s book Over Our Dead Bodies (Pluto Press, Annandale NSW 1998) gives an excellent review of the impact of the Port Arthur gun massacre on Australians and our gun laws. John Crook’s 1999 book Port Arthur – Gun Tragedy, Gun Law Miracle and 2000 book Guns and Conspiracies (Gun Control Australia Inc, Melbourne) look at the conspiracy theories and suggest reasons why Tasmanian gun laws were so weak. Mr Joe Vialls conspiracy theory is on the website under his name.

1.6 1998 to 2005 – Handguns Enter the Debate in Two Different Ways

This period has seen a considerable reduction in the number of gun massacres and the yearly number of gun deaths. While it may be too early to congratulate the post-Port Arthur gun laws entirely for that improvement, the signs are encouraging. Gun politics again raised its head following the shooting at Monash University in Clayton Victoria in late 2002. At Monash two people died and five were injured when a senior student fired handguns during an economics tutorial. Americans may have experienced many school shootings but Australians had not. The community was shocked that the gun problem had erupted at a university. If guns could be brought into classes then no student was safe.

It was blatantly clear that the licensed pistol shooter who commited the crime should not have had access to his handguns. It was also clear that the laws controlling pistols and pistol club membership needed improving. Despite this gun groups opposed the changes and have continued to ridicule them. The Sporting Shooters Association even seeing the changes as part of a conspiracy. In November 2002 the Australasian Police Ministers Council met and agreed to make stricter controls on the importation and usage of handguns. The role of the federal minister for justice, Senator Chris Ellison, is crucial in these matters. COAG (Coalition of Australian Governments) and the APMC (Australasian Police Ministers Council) are also major contributors to such debates.

Given that the 2000′s also saw an increased amount of illegal handgun use it was understandable that further governmental action would take place. Most importantly in January 2003 the formation of an Australian Crime Commission was announced. The board of the Commission met with the aftermath of the Monash shooting on its agenda as well as the illegal trafficking in handguns. The board brought together all of the important advisory groups; the National Crime Authority, Australian Bureau of Criminal Intelligence, Office of Strategic Crime Assessments, Australian Federal Police, Customs Service, Australian Securities and Investments Commission, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and state and territory police forces.

Thus the political consequences of the Monash University shooting were considerable. Shooters in IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation) competitive events complained bitterly about the limitations placed on them as barrel length and the number of bullets per magazine were now constrained. It should be realised that the word ‘practical’ in IPSC really means combat. Handgun shooters also complained about the new requirement to attend a minimum number of approved ‘shoots’ each year.

Further Reading: One of the only books which gives an overview of this recent period in the gun law debate is John Crook’s A Curse Called Handguns (Gun Control Australia Inc, Melbourne, 2003). Much has, however, been written by the SSAA – one should open their website and refer to the ASJ magazine.

2. Gun Problems – Australia Compared With Other Nations

In the 1970′s and till the mid 1980′s the Australian figure for total gun deaths from all causes (suicide, homicide, unintentional) was nearly 700. Despite increasing population and almost certainly due to stricter gun controls this figure had been reduced to less than half that figure by the early 2000′s – the actual figure for 2003 being 290. This means that today over 400 fewer Australians each year die from gun wounds than one might expect to be the case if the gun lobby had managed to keep Australians in the dark-ages with regard to gun laws.

1987 saw six gun massacres where 32 innocents were killed by shooters. Although there have been a couple of multiple shootings since 2000 it is probably reasonable to say that the gun massacre phase in Australian history appears to have passed by 1999 – 13 years of tragedy. The US is the only other westernised country to be plagued by repeated gun massacres over several decades. There are no seriously coordinated gun laws in the US in regard to handguns and non-automatic shotguns and rifles. We would argue that this situation arises because US politicians bow to the gun lobby and fail to enact responsible gun laws; several of the present Bush administration being members of the NRA.

US pro-gun activists such as author David Kopel argue that Americans insist on total freedom wih guns and that the Second Amendment to the Constitution places every adult in a position of arming and accepting responsibility – ie, to overthrow the government if it stops acting in the interests of the the citizens. They also argue that there is so much crime that the police cannot be relied upon to quickly help citizens, hence each person must become their own lawman. Readers can see from the figures below what a high price such policies create within American society.

Gun Related Murders per 100,000 of population in 2002 (From Sunday Times)

USA 4.08
Canada 0.54
England and Wales 0.12
Scotland 0.12
Japan 0.04

Our calculations show that the figure for Australia is 0.25. This means that approx 16 times more Americans die from gun murders than Australians.

Further Reading: David Kopel’s 1992 book The Samurai, the Mountie and the Cowboy (Prometheus Books, Buffalo, New York USA) argues the case for freedom with guns almost regardless of the consequences. Zimring F. and Hawkins G. wrote The Citizens Guide to Gun Control in 1987 (Macmillan, New York USA) but it is a very readable book. Statistics on the gun problem can be found on the AIC and ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) websites. Useful statistics are also shown in two Gun Control Australia Inc books, The ABC of Gun Control (Abrahams O, Bednarz A, and Crook J) and A Students Course in Gun Control (Collins R.and Crook J.) Useful statistics are also found within the Sporting Shooters website, www.ssaa.org.au.

The Nature of the Australian Gun Politics Debate

3.1 The Public and the Broader Gun Control Movement

Many activist pro-gun groups such as the SSAA find it hard to admit that the public is strongly opposed to their gun policies. Polls taken after serious gun misuse show that somewhere between 75% to 85% of the population want strict gun laws. This is reflected in the support which gun control has been given by many leading community groups such as the Australian Medical Association, the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, the Public Health Association, the RSPCA and many established churches. Simon Chapman’s excellent book Over Our Dead Bodies, examines the public support for gun controls. Understandably then the major political parties reflect that public wish for strict gun laws. Prior to the 2004 federal election the SSAA questioned the six major political parties on their attitude to current gun laws. This is a useful seven page document and it is fortunate that the SSAA published the results in their Australian Shooters Journal, Vol 6 Issue 3 Election Edition 2004. This is available at www.ssaa.org.au. Note that the Greens have a strong gun control policy and declined to answer the Shooters questions. Our briefest summary of the attitudes of the four other major parties is:

ALP. We think the current gun laws are working satisfactorily but are not against the ownership of registered guns or competitive shooting events.

Liberal. We think the current gun laws are justified but support the right of shooters to own guns legally.

Nationals. We support the current gun laws but as (John Anderson speaking) a keen shooter we do not want to make it difficult to be a shooter.

Democrats. The current gun laws are barely enough. The government should have used its money better.

Despite SSAA promptings no party said it was time to weaken gun laws.

3.2 Gun Control Groups

Understandably, when gun tragedies take place more people become involved in gun control. The Committee to Register All Guns formed in 1972. It was Australia’s first community based gun control group. The Council for Control of Gun Misuse formed in 1981 and from then on Australia has never been without an active gun control organisation. Gun Control Australia Inc (GCA) formed in 1988 and the National Coalition for Gun Control (NCGC) in 1992. Each of these groups has had good public support for its policies.

The NCGC linked up many established community groups in 1996, held important rallies and successfully lobbied parliaments to enact stricter gun laws; They see themselves as major contributors to the 1997 National Agreement on Gun Laws. Their spokesperson Sam Lee is active with formal and informal reviews and has received a Churchill scholarship to study aspects of gun control. She presented this material to the 2004 Australian Institute of Criminology Conference in Melbourne. GCA has operated successfully for decades. Its main task is to expose the weaknessses in the views put forward by the gun lobby. GCA has several hundred members who link together to lobby parliamentarians. It maintains an up-to-date website and is a non Government Organisation in Roster Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. Perhaps GCA is best known for its publication of over a dozen books which cover most aspects of the gun debate in Australia.

3.3 Pro-gun Groups

Although the SSAA maintains a wide interest in all aspects of the gun debate its prime task is to satisfy its members with the provision of shooting facilities and competitions and, via its journals, information re hunting and gun technicalities. The SSAA has strong affiliations with the NRA and adopts the extremist posture of that American gun lobby group. This does not seem to have alienated it from the more moderate gun groups and thus the SSAA has, as far as the media is concerned, tended to become the political spokesperson for most shooting groups within Australia. The SSAA is joined with the NRA as members of the international gun lobby group, the World Forum on the Future of Sports Shooting and with New Zealands’s Council of Licensed Firearm Owners (COLFO) in the Pacific Shooting Sports Forum. The SSAA works with the NRA as non Government Organisation’s at the United Nations (These groups are officially recognised as contributors to UN forums) in order to prevent pro-gun control groups from obtaining the fullest constraints on gun proliferation. The handgun fraternity are specifically represented by the umbrella group, Pistol Australia; the combat gun shooters by the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC); the deer shooters by the Australian Deer Association (ADA); the trophy hunters by the Safari Club and the duck shooters by the Field and Game Federation of Australia (FGFA). Despite the existence of all these organisations shooters have seldom sought to exert strict controls on their members. If you support the view that gun owning is a right or believe that shooters can do no wrong then that is where the desire for controls tends to stop.

There are over three quarters of a million licensed shooters in Australia, perhaps half a dozen commercially produced gun magazines and many shooting range facilities.It is not uncommon for several pro-gun groups to form temporary or longer term affiliations in order to oppose stricter gun legislation. Sometimes gun trader groups join with gun clubs to provide organisational expertise and assist with raising money. On at least two occasions such political lobby groups have raised almost half a million dollars to try to stop a certain political party being elected. On several occasions gun groups have organised major marches in towns and cities for shooters to show their feelings to the public and politicians. In general such exhibitions have not had long-term political success.

Further Reading: Australian Shooters Journal Vol 6 Issue 3 (on www.ssaa.org.au) The attitude of the NRA is shown in dozens of US books e.g. Davidson O.G Under Fire – the NRA and the battle for gun control (H.Holt, New York, USA 1993) also Sugarmann J, National Rifle Association – Money Firepower and Fear (National Press Books Inc, Bethesda MD, USA 1992). An early book which exposes the NRA is, Bakal C. The Right to Bear Arms
(McGraw Hill, New York USA 1966). Killias M., Van Kesteren J., and Rindlisbacher M. (2001) Guns, violent crime, and suicide in twenty one countries. Canadian Journal of Criminology 156:429-48 should be read. The various shooting groups mentioned have websites where relevant information can be obtained. The references listed under further reading in Section 4 are also valuable to study.

4. Future

A decade and a half ago the gun debate in Australia became distorted by US gun lobby thinking. Instead of discussion on shooter credentialisation and training, proper handling of guns and public safety the debate now often hinges on gun owners rights. It would be a tragedy if this change from functional to ideological dominates the future of gun politics in Australia. It would be an even greater tragedy if Australian society has to face the consequences of the weak laws which some leading gun clubs would have us accept.It is the desires of these Americanised gun clubs and their gun trading supporters that presents the Australian peace-loving population with a great political problem in the future.

Further Reading: David Hemenway’s 2004 book Private guns, public health (University of Michigan Press) is important reading.The 2002 book, Smoking Guns, published by the Brady Center of Washington DC, USA, is crucial reading. The Wikipedia website article titled ‘Gun Politics in Australia’ (in Feb.2006) represents a brief but strong pro-gun lobby view on this subject.

5. Websites of interest

Gun Control Sites:

Brady Center (USA) www.bradycenter.org
Violence Policy Center (USA) www.vpc.org
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (USA) www.csgv.org
Ceasefire (USA) www.waceasefire.org
Gun Control Network (UK) www.gun-control-network.org
Gun Control South Africa;www.gca.org.za
Gun Control Australia; www.guncontrol.org.au

Pro Gun Sites

National Rifle Association of America (USA) www.nra.org
Gun Owners of America (USA) www.gunowners.org
Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (USA) www.ccrkba.org
Second Amendment Foundtion (USA) www.saf.org
Sporting Shooters Association of Australia; www.ssaa.org.au
Council of Licensed Firearm Owners (New Zealand) www.colfo.org.nz