Australians imported more than 730,000 firearms since the buy-backs of 1996, and in the 2011-2012 financial year we imported more guns into Australia than ever before. So who is this new generation of legal firearm owners, and why is their political influence growing? From sporting shooters to farmers controlling pests, Triple J’s Hack program takes a look at Australia’s growing legal gun culture and speaks with Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA) spokesperson Tim Bannister, New South Wales Greens MP David Shoebridge, and Australian Olympic and Commonwealth Games shotgun champion Suzy Balogh.
SSAA’s Tim Bannister discusses firearm ownership in Australia and the growing popularity of target shooting. He says people now see hunting on the same level as fishing, and sport shooting as similar to archery. He said as the drought has broken, people are asking for assistance to remove non-native animals and hunters can help. The Port Arthur mass murders in 1996 saw then Prime Minister John Howard impose restrictions on self-loading firearms and made sports shooting and recreational hunting seem distasteful. He highlighted that the government spent $1 billion on firearms control, yet the level of suicide hasn’t dropped significantly, homicide hasn’t dramatically dropped and the bad guys still have guns. He introduces the term ‘hoplophobia’ – the irrational fear of firearms and someone owning a firearm – which he says is what the Greens are all about.
Greens MP David Shoebridge says he is concerned about Australia’s growing gun culture and what he calls the ‘worshipping of guns’.
Shotgun champion Suzy Balogh says that as a licensed instructor at a gun club, she sees a variety of people from all walks of life, including many young people, interested in trying and taking up the shooting sports. She also says the more people who are aware of using a firearm safely and properly, the better.