Award winning Australian author cannot reconcile concept of legal gun ownership

Tim Winton Image: youtube

Tim Winton Image: youtube

It must take a certain confidence, a self possessed sense of knowing how people see the world so you can write a best seller that appeals to a broad readership. If you look at reader reviews of his Cloudstreet blockbusterthough, it seems to divide them into lovers and haters.

But it was his recent article pointing none-too subtly to a need for a total gun ban in the Weekend Australian titled “Holding Fire”, that raised my hackles recently. This is an edited extract from his latest work, The Boy Behind The Curtain and it arguably draws the Winton fan club in to be supporters of extreme gun control by cleverly getting the reader to identify with his own thoughts and actions.

Consequently, the word “transference” popped up from my subconscious and I immediately looked up definitions. In psychoanalytical terms it has been defined as,

the redirection to a substitute, usually a therapist, of emotions that were originally felt in childhood (in a phase of analysis called transference neurosis ).

The subject “boy behind the curtain” was in fact a pre-pubescent Winton, whose policeman father owned a Lithgow single shot .22 before 1996 storage laws. The rifle lived at the back of a cupboard, its bolt separated to another location. The boy Winton was thoroughly instructed in gun safety by his father, taken to hunt small game and let loose himself to go out to supplement the family’s diet.

Cover: The Boy Behind The Curtain by Tim Winton

“Holding Fire”But here’s the kicker! When his parents were out, the boy would, during a period of alienation due to moving into a new location, get the boltless .22 out and stand behind the curtains drawing a bead on unsuspecting passers by. During and after these episodes, Winton was, if not horrified, peturbed by his own actions and on real shooting trips in the bush he would often forego shooting a round. In his words, “I was stricken by the very idea of the rifle, its eerie potential and authority, cowed by the sinister power of the thing.” If ever I have seen a paradox in print, this sentence was it. Ascribing mythical life to an inanimate object, whereby it could destroy the free good will of its possessor and then finally describing it as “the thing”, implying its inanimate status.

If I knew what actually goes on in Winton’s head, then I may or may not venture that Winton was genuinely a “hoplophobe”, butI can only guess at what his motives are for bringing this up. If he was pushing a political anti-gun agenda, then he could not have done a better job than he has here, all by the use of transference. Hold that thought.

Now, Winton’s own household will not allow even a toy gun to cross the threshhold, but when invited to his brother-in-law’s place with his family, out came the portable shotgun trap and Tim proceeded to give them all a lesson, doing very well with a borrowed over and under (how’s that go if you don’t have a firearms licence – no matter, the police only really come down on licensed firearm owners anyway). He turned around to find his own family stonily silent and condemning of his actions. Winton writes however, “And not even the mood of umbrage and inner-city disapproval radiating from the rear seat on the long drive home could make me regret it.”

Interestingly, he contradicts himself a few paragraphs before when he congratulates John Howard for his absolute courage confronting “rednecks” in his massive display of mistrust of his own people at a pro-gun rally in Gympie. In contrast to Winton, I see Howard as a gross political opportunist and pure irrational gun hater, nothing more. So what is it to be Tim, having some harmless fun with an inanimate object that can hold no malice, or get rid of all civilian ownership of firearms? You can’t have it both ways.

This makes me think that Winton’s innate fear of firearms coming across in this article (because you never really know what a person is going to do under stress) is simply a writer’s clever tactic to sway his undecided writers to the anti-gun cause because of a political motive and wanting to appear socially progressive to the cognescenti and subsequently to sell more books. I do not believe for a minute that he feels most law abiders cannot be trusted with guns. Maybe he cannot trust himself, but that is no reason to condemn everybody else to traversing his own potential psychiatric minefield.

And I will finish with my thoughts on the whole gun debate. Governments are elected by people and from the moment they are put in place, they feel threatened and need to control the population by whatever means they can get away with, so that they can maintain their power and position, separate from and above the rest of the population, even in what we call a democracy. Because of this uneasy state, the huge majority of the rest of the population, who by any reasonable definition are good people, are not extended any reasonable level of trust.

Lithgow Model 1 .22 Long Rifle

In wartime, when the populace of drafted or volunteer civilian soldiers are armed to protect their nation (and not so incidentally its pollies) they are not disarmed or mistrusted. Why do the rules change when it is peaceful and prosperous? Possibly because they are pointing their controlled aggression and weapons at “another” enemy and when they are peacefully at home, they see their government for what it really is?

You can all read the article in the Holding Fire link in the second paragraph.




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Marcus O'Dean