Reports claiming that Australia is not “immune from the deadly influence of firearms” before listing a series of unrelated shooting incidents, carried out overwhelming by unlicensed shooters using unregistered and illegal firearms, is unnecessary scaremongering. Happy to take money from sporting shooters to promote responsible firearms ownership one week, but then vilify the very same group less than two weeks later, News Corp has demonstrated that the days where the media simply reported the news are long gone, with our mainstream media now nothing more than news makers and shapers pushing an agenda.
The story ‘Scary trend in Australian gun crime with more than 200 shooting deaths a year’ published on News.com.au on March 9 was littered with inaccuracies and false information, including quoting the known anti-gun advocate Philip Alpers. In what can only be described as selective reporting, the SSAA has still not been contacted to counter the claims and express the views of our 176,000-plus members and one million licensed Australian firearm owners.
A broader analysis of figures by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) regarding gun deaths show that just 16 per cent of homicides involved a firearm in 2010-11 compared to 42 per cent using knives and sharp instruments. Even beatings accounted for more deaths than firearms, at a rate of 24 per cent. As for claims that firearms are “the most common weapon used in attempted murder in 2014”, the real figures indicate knives are used nearly as often, with a mere two per cent difference.
Further statements that private firearm ownership “has now climbed to even higher than before the devastating shooting”, referring to the Port Arthur murders, fails to specify that every single firearm now owned by a licensed shooter has been approved, verified and registered by the police. Gun Control Australia’s (GCA) claims that 9000 handguns “have been stolen since 2004” directly contradicts official government figures showing that less than 10 per cent of firearms found on the black market were obtained through theft from licensed firearm owners. In fact, the last Firearms theft in Australia report from the Australian Institute of Criminology states that handguns made up just six per cent of firearms reported as stolen from a total of 620 theft incidents – a far cry from GCA’s outrageous claims.
Further criticism that the gun lobby has “brought us shooting in national parks” fails to acknowledge the conservation and wildlife management benefits our volunteer shooters have brought to our nation and farmers, including paving the way for the resurgence of rare species such as the western quoll and yellow-footed rock wallaby. Other claims that people with a criminal record can obtain subsequent firearms is simply a fallacy.
Calling for Australia to look at these issues “before the next siege takes place” is unnecessary scaremongering and once again vilifies the nation’s one million sporting shooters who partake in a legitimate activity that is strictly regulated. The SSAA will be lodging a formal complaint against the ‘journalist’ and the publication and demanding a right of reply to the insulting, inaccurate and misleading story.
We encourage our members to head to the reporter’s Twitter page and politely suggest that she contact a reputable and knowledgeable shooting organisation such as the SSAA for any future related stories.