While I don’t agree with the current restrictive gun laws we have at the moment, I believe we do need some form of gun control. I am a former policeman (1972-87) and remember being told back when I joined, that it was an object of the United Nations to disarm the civilised world. I definitely do not agree with this.
Having been a frontline police officer for all my career and having discharged my weapon in the line of duty, and having been shot at on three different occasions, I feel I am more qualified to comment in relation to gun matters than many of the supposed experts.
We have licensing and registration for motor vehicles, and this assists authorities in controlling vehicles, ownership, drivers and anything required regarding motor cars. There would be utter chaos without it. We have licensing and registration for various trades and occupations for that very same reason. It is therefore reasonable to suggest that we should have some form of licensing and registration in relation to firearms.
If a shooter is a responsible person, then they would have no reason to vote against such registration or licensing of their fellow shooters. Guns are dangerous and the person holding them is responsible for the outcome of the situation where they are used. In all my time as a policeman, not once did I see a firearm commit a crime… it was always the person using it. Now I agree that there are arguments put up that people with knives and cars and steel bars also commit crimes. Should we licence these items? Well, use some common sense. We could have all the laws possible and still not prevent crime. There is no way that we can prevent a person from being stupid.
Guns in themselves are a fairly effective weapon, and in the wrong hands can cause a lot of damage. Therefore we need to restrict some people from having them. This isn’t an attack on their human rights, rather a decision made by reasonable people to attempt to ensure no firearm are in the hands of people who shouldn’t have access to them. I’m sure you know people out there who you definitely wouldn’t trust with a firearm, and often with knives and cars and other items. For this reason alone, the argument for licensing and registration is valid.
I do not agree with all current firearms laws and I find some to be very restrictive. I have given up pistol shooting for this reason. I was finding it way too restrictive to maintain the amount of shoots and competitions required to maintain the handgun licence. I have a family, business and other outside interests. I am a member of a service club, like fishing, socialising, travelling, motor sport, swimming, bush walking, and a myriad of other activities. Sadly, pistol shooting proved to be too onerous to keep going, so it had to go. Sadly, my pistols were basically given away and while it was someone’s gain, it was my big loss financially.
Firearms laws need to be debated by a body of people from both sides of the table. It is not correct for those opposing firearms to be the decider on law nor is it right for the pro-gun lobby to be the decision maker. There are many from both sides of the table who are reasonably minded and could draft workable and acceptable laws.
I do not think politicians, police officers or civil rights people, who either have a vested interest or have been appointed to a position because of their current employment, are sufficiently qualified to make decisions, either. Persons involved in the firearms industry are also, in my opinion, not qualified to sit on decision making committees.
When we do get some reasonable, workable laws, then let’s make the penalties for breaches a bit harder. Unlicensed shooters and unregistered firearms should attract a gaol term. This makes it the responsibility of the shooter to make sure he is in possession of a registered firearm and he is currently licensed. There needs to be a more accountable method of notifying the shooter that his licence or registration is due, not just relying on the mail. It is too easy for the shooter, who may have the best of intentions, to miss a mail reminder. Certified mail would remedy that. When we have addressed the correct and workable laws, along with appropriate and sufficiently severe penalties, then I think the use of illegal firearms by unlicensed users will be impacted.
This does not mean that we will be free of firearms offences, nor will we be free of murders, robberies etc where firearms are involved, but they will surely be reduced.
The saying that if we outlaw firearms, then only the outlaws will have them is very true. Outlawing (totally or by severe restrictions) will cause many who are law abiding people to consider becoming outlaws. No amount of control will prevent outlaws from obtaining or using firearms, but with sufficient severe penalties, this should be reduced.
The restrictive laws we have now are not working with the desired effect. They need to be re-thought, redrafted and become fair to all concerned.
Fair-minded, reasonable people should not fear the right, workable laws for the right occasion.
This blog was originally submitted as a comment to our earlier blog, “Bad gun laws hurt good people“.