Gun enthusiasts accumulate a number of different firearms based on their choice of clothing and reason for leaving the house and would pick a different gun for going to the beach versus going to a formal event. Really? This rubbish is one of a number of reasons explaining why people accumulate guns cited in a discussion paper commissioned by Gun Control Australia and published by The Australia Institute (TAI), a Canberra-based left-leaning think-tank which boasts that its excellent research drives the public debate and secures policy outcomes.
“Socially just, environmentally responsible and economically viable solutions are possible, but only if insightful questions are combined with excellent research,” it says on its website. But there’s more. As well as to make a fashion statement, it says people accumulate guns because they want one in each room in event of a home invasion, are stocking up before anticipated bans or restrictions or are preparing for the breakdown of civilisation.
All this appears near the end of a paper entitled Hunters and Collectors – Gun use and ownership in Australia but really relates to the US, though that’s not clear without looking at the footnotes. These gems were actually lifted from a September 2016 Guardian newspaper report of an unpublished academic survey of US gun ownership conducted in 2015. The Guardian report noted a substantial proportion of America’s guns are in the hands of just three per cent of adults who it termed ‘super owners’ with an average of 17 firearms each.
Unlike GCA, the authors of the US study made no claims as to whether owning a large number of guns poses a greater risk factor than owning a few guns. They said they just didn’t know as there had been no research on the topic.
As to why Americans own guns, Guardian reporters talked to some gun owners, one of whom told them: “Walking around the beach with shirt off and shorts . . . I’m probably going to use a different gun than putting on a sport coat and going out to dinner.”
This particular respondent would appear to be an outlier even in the broad church of US gun owners. The Guardian said he headed a gun rights group which saw itself as further to the political right than the National Rifle Association. So what relevance could his views have to Australia’s very different gun culture – you’d think not much at all but this is GCA-commissioned research.
The Guardian report and TAI paper do cite some reasons for owning firearms which seem more in tune with the Australian situation. Gun owners have multiple guns because they’re serious hunters, participate in sport shooting, collect historic guns or have inherited several guns.
This was one of two discussion papers, both commissioned by GCA and written by researcher Bill Browne, who also penned a separate opinion piece following the revelation that One Nation representatives had been in the US encouraged by a fake lobbyist employed by an overseas government-owned media outlet to meet with the NRA. All appeared in late March and can be found in the research section of the Australian Institute website.
Hunters and Collectors attracted some media attention, detailing the rising number of guns in Australia following the 1996 National Firearms Agreement (NFA). It recommends states and territories consider a cap of two guns per licensee. This paper drew much of its data from the website gunpolicy.org run by anti-gun advocate Philip Alpers and would appear to involve some degree of omniscience. Since most guns in Australia weren’t registered pre-NFA, the claim of more than three million privately owned guns in Australia in 1996 would appear to be at best a guess.
The second discussion paper is entitled Point Blank – Political Strategies of Australia’s Gun Lobby and acknowledges contributions from members of the left-leaning activist group GetUp. This paper claims the public desire for stronger gun control is being circumvented by pressure from the gun lobby and recommends political parties should refuse gun lobby donations.
Alas for this argument there’s scant evidence Australia is back-sliding on the 1996 National Firearms Agreement or that any pro-gun MP or MPs, even if holding the balance of power in a hung parliament, could demand the NFA be dismantled as their price for supporting the government.
Curiously, TAI sees the “large, well-resourced and tightly knit” gun lobby not so much as the Sporting Shooters Associa