“Gun control” vs “Gun liberty”
Nearly 20 years after John Howard’s implementation of strong gun control laws in response to the Port Arthur Incident in 1996, SBS Insight ran an episode called, “How much control do we have over guns in Australia?” When it comes to the issue of civilian firearm ownership, the media would have us believe that there are essentially only two possible sides to be taken. On the one hand, pro-gun arguments tend to follow the usual rhetoric of the right-wing, firearm-loving conservatives who believe that firearm ownership is a fundamental “right.” In opposition to this, various arguments are presented by firearm-hating left-wingers who believe that all civilian firearm ownership should be banned. All presentation of these debates are done in a highly emotive way.
Following on from this debate, we would be left with only two conclusions:
- If civilian firearm ownership is denied completely, then police (as well as criminals, of course) end up being better-armed than civilians.
- If firearm ownership is upheld as a “right of the people”, then those who love firearms and believe wholeheartedly in defending such personal rights of self-defence will end up being better-armed than leftists (who are moaning about how bad guns are, and continue to protest for their abolition).
Robert Brown from the Shooters and Fishers party brings up the issue of gun ownership by recreational hunters and farmers, and he sees himself as defending the rights of those who he considers to be patriotic Australians. However, on the whole I would say the greatest danger in conservatives being given the liberty to own and bear arms (in many cases, as many as they would like to and afford) is that these people’s general philosophy of life supports in-group favouritism and animosity towards those who they consider to be outside this group. You can see the extremes that far-right activists are willing to go by the recent arson attacks in Europe against refugees. So all the while, as those who are more pacifist and compassionate argue for firearms being banned, while the far-right who love their guns are stockpiling for their long-awaited “race war.”
All the media hype keeps people distracted from the simple truth that the people who hate firearms the most are the ones who most deserve to be armed. Such people are going to exercise the correct self-judgement in their use for the defence of their fellow citizens in need. They understand that in times of need, retaliation must be exercised against those who would incite violence against the innocent, even using force of arms where necessary. On the other hand, those who love to bear arms often do so for the mere pleasure of hunting and shooting innocent animals for sport. Thus, we see firearm ownership not as a civil liberty, but a duty. Citizens should feel a duty to protect their fellow citizens from those who would seek to initiate violence against them.
Thus, I believe that all citizens should receive a mandatory training in the use of simple fire-arms for the defence of their fellow citizens against those who would seek to threaten their life. Connected with this, I believe that the institution of mandatory military service for two years for all citizens would foster the right kind of discipline, respect and responsibility that would be required to bear arms, as well as bringing great benefit to our nation in terms of skills and vocational training. Military training builds character and essential team-working skills amongst other qualities of great value. There will be an option for mandatory service in our national emergency service as an alternative, but basic fire-arms training will be viewed as a duty of all citizens, that cannot be refused.