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4 min read

Update from our Impact Fund partners: November 2020

This month, we have an update from the Australian Gun Safety Alliance, which has made a huge contribution to gun safety in Australia since 2017’s seed funding that secured their establishment.

AUSTRALIAN GUN SAFETY ALLIANCE

STRENGTHENING DEMOCRACY PARTNER

A renewed website has just been launched and a major feature is the range of organisations and sectors who are taking an active interest in the issue.

The Alannah & Madeline Foundation was established after the tragic mass shooting in Port Arthur in 1996. There, young sisters Alannah & Madeline Mikac, along with their mother Nanette were killed by a single gunman.

Stephen Bendle is the convenor of the Alliance and was recently interviewed by Australian Communities Foundation.

The Alliance’s greatest concern is that despite all States and Territories, along with the Commonwealth signing the National Firearms agreement in 1996 and renewing their commitment in 2017, not a single jurisdiction is fully compliant with the Agreement even after nearly 25 years.

The Australian Gun Safety Alliance understands that the majority of gun owners in Australia are law abiding, responsible people who are not criminals. However, Australian Governments must do everything in their power to avoid a slide towards an American culture of gun entitlement.

The Alliance believes that the onus of firearm laws and regulations should be on public safety and not for the convenience or commercial interests of a few. This is the overriding principle of the National Firearms Agreement which has served Australians well.

Australia’s gun reforms following the Port Arthur shooting in 1996 has been recognised by Public Health Association of Australia as one our Top 10 public health successes of the last 20 years. At the time 90% of Australians supported the bipartisan approach to the introduction of a National Firearms Agreement that established a national framework for the regulation of firearms. The Agreement established the principle that firearms possession and use is a privilege that is conditional on the overriding need to ensure public safety. That level of public support continues today.

Australia’s gun lobby is quiet but very powerful. The Australia Institute published a report in 2019 that showed the Australian gun lobby is comparable in size and funding to the American National Rifle Association but that its political influence is more subtle.

Last year Al Jazeera uncovered senior One Nation Party officials courting donations from the NRA in order to “hold a gun to the head of the Australian Government”. This is not particularly surprising since some Australian shooting groups have been liaising with the NRA since the early 1990s [The Age, 26 June 1993 (The SSAA hosted the NRA in Adelaide)].

The influence of the firearm industry is particularly sensitive at the moment as in the next 3 years every jurisdiction is going to an election. There are currently 21 elected representatives in Australian parliaments that are from parties with published policies aimed at relaxing Australia’s gun laws, undermining the National Firearms Agreement, and showing open support towards the gun lobby. This representation is a result of the gun lobby’s clear strategy of focussing on minority government and obtaining the balance of power, especially in upper houses of Parliament.

The Australian Gun Safety Alliance continues to speak to all jurisdictions, monitor amendments to firearm legislation and regulations and ensure that the issue of firearms policy have a balanced voice speaking on behalf of those committed to the health and safety of the community.