John Howard – gun laws could be “strengthened” and the ill informed debate

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Former Prime Minister John Howard has said Australia’s gun laws could be “strengthened” after he revealed he didn’t want to see the laws he introduced “weakened”.

Mr Howard, who was attending centenary celebrations at Earlwood Public School in Sydney, was asked about the Adler shotgun controversy that arose in federal parliament this week.

“My position as you might expect on gun laws is I don’t want to see any weakening of any kind in the prohibitions that I introduced and amendments which may have been added since 1996,” Mr Howard said.

“Now as to how the government of the day deals with the current issue that’s a matter for the government of the day,” he said.

“They are respected around the world as being very effective, they have made Australia a much safer country and I just don’t want to see any weakening, and where the opportunity might arise, they could even be strengthened.”

Debate over Adler shotgun is emotional and ill-informed

Brendan O’Reilly published an article this week exposing the emotional and ill-informed debate around the Adler.

The A110, in a scare campaign by its opponents, has been variously described as “rapid-fire”, “capable of firing up to eight cartridges (seven from the magazine plus one from the chamber) in as many seconds”, and “easily convertible to an 11-shot firing capacity”. Activist group Gun Control Australia is claiming that “due to improvement in firearm technology, the Adler is now a faster more lethal weapon than ever”.

The reality is a bit different.

The public are not widely aware that the Adler A110 is already available in Australia from most gun shops for about $850. The qualification is that it is the five shot magazine version that is available. What’s more, broadly similar shotguns (with five shot magazines) have been available in Australia since the late 19th century, originally from Winchester, and subsequently from the Italian firm Chiappa,and the American firm Interstate Arms Corporation(IAC), all without much fanfare.

Lever-action shotguns are only significant in Australia because the Howard Government banned (for most people) pump action and semi-automatic shotguns by giving them (restricted) Category C and D classifications. Thus the lever action became the most viable alternative shotgun that facilitated more than two shots.

In respect of lever action shotguns, essentially there is little practical difference in utility between the currently available 5 shot magazine lever actions and the currently banned 7 shot magazine version, so I can’t understand why Leyonhjelm is making such a fuss. It is also noteworthy that the main shotgun used in crime actually is the common break-action shotgun (because the barrels can easily be sawn-off for concealment purposes). Most other shotguns (including lever actions) cannot be shortened without destroying the action or the magazine. It is possible for a handy metal worker to lengthen the tube magazine on a lever action, but then again, it is not that difficult for a skilled metal worker to make a gun from scratch.

The whole Adler debate is a storm in a teacup. Much of the demand for the gun is the result of publicity following activists’ efforts to ban them. On the other hand David Leyonhjelm is not helping the shooting fraternity by rekindling emotions and effectively putting the whole issue of gun control back on the agenda.

Brian finished with “Personally, I am fed up with this debate and think we should let sleeping dogs lie.”

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