GUN CONTROL & WHY NOT
You are probably sick of journalists drooling over the Port Arthur massacre, but please bear with me as I raise it again. It is of course, being used as an argument for tighter gun laws - my favourite rightwing columnist, Les Carlyon in the Age, went so far as to say that the case for (much) tighter gun laws was so obvious, it was "not even worth debating" (9/1/96). And indeed, anyone, who tries to debate it risks being portrayed as a murderous crazy or a lickspittle of the gun lobby.
Any attempt to stifle debate by intimidation or ridicule is usually a sign that some dangerous argument is being suppressed and so it is in this case. Because the real argument against gun control is not that it would disadvantage farmers, duck shooters or gun collectors. Farmers could get special licences as with handguns (as with handguns) on proof of genuine need, and in any case could make more use of traps and poison to control vermin. Sporting shooters could use bow and arrows which is more sporting anyway; and for gun collectors there is a whole wide world of other things to collect. Deaths by being shot at, are a fraction of deaths by car accident, but no one suggests that motor cars should be banned. This is because the car is regarded as necessary to our society. But it seems firearms serve virtually no good purpose at all, and to ban them would bring only gain.
Except of course, police, who need guns to murder distraught women armed with kitchen knives; and more importantly for the army who (as the would be secret document "Aid to the Civil Power" makes clear) need guns to butcher Australian citizens engaged in "major civil disorder" such as for example a revolutionary general strike.
Ok, you spotted the irony. What happens when an unarmed "disorderly" population meets a professional army under the discipline of a threatened government? The world saw, at Tienamen Square. You think that couldn't happen here (racial superiority perhaps)? Here's an experiment to try. find the pleasantest most affable young soldier you can and ask him what he'd do if his commanding officer ordered him to shoot down a picket line. Please don't think I'm arguing for a terrorist strategy, or even for armed revolution, because I'm not. I support the classic anarcho-syndicalist conception of revolution by general strike. But the leaders of a capitalist state on the point of overthrow will be tempted to respond with military force, however "peacefully" they are being overthrown. An armed population, in particular an armed working class, will help them to resist that temptation. If the students and workers of Tienamen Square had had access to appropriate weaponry I do not believe there would have been a massacre.
Perhaps you don't feel any particular need of a revolution, and are happy if our present "capitalist democracy" can survive. It won't. The ground of capitalist democracy is that the population is capable of overthrowing an unpopular govt. or at least of making the State ungovernable. Therefor people are given a vote, a stake in the system, to broaden the basis of consent." When people lose the power of revolution, democracy will not long survive. The art of government is precisely to make people lose the ower of revolution, and the push for gun control should be seen in that light.
Which still leaves us with the problem of mass murderers, and what to do about them. What does seem clear is that even very strict gun control cannot prevent random gun massacres. So long as there are armies, and armourers to sell them weapons, so long will there be "military style weapons" on the black market. I'm told that most mass-murderers plan their actions, and most are financially well off. They will continue, in the face of illegality, to obtain automatic rifles. The reason why mass murders have increased in Australia over the last 20 years is not because of more liberal gun laws, the reverse is the case. Mass murderers usually pay for their fun with their lives, or at best long term imprisonment. Its very hard to stop someone doing something they are prepared to die for.
Its fairly obvious that the continued appearance of people prepared to die in the cause of killing total strangers is the product of continued social breakdown, the attack on unionism is part, of the same phenomenon. The only real answer I can see is to make haste to bury the current exploitative and barbaric capitalist social order and replace it with a self-managed, equalitarian society.
(Some background: -- There has been a small but vocal pro-gun lobby in Australia which previously had successes. Since this article was written the new Govt. has pushed through a general ban on SLRs, automatics and some shotguns. A person involved with vermin reduction etc can jump through firey hoops to get a .22 SLR or self loading shotgun.
Full automatics have always been banned in Australia.
The Govt. will "steal" money from the taxpayers through an extra levy on the Medicare system (National Health) to buy any now banned gun that was previously legally registered, for a 6 month period.
Pity the guy didn't use fertilizer, we need that banned.
One article I read said there were enough guns in Australia for 1 for every person, or 2 for every male (roughly 17 million). )