When Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) visited a high school in upstate New York in May 1991, he received an unexpected civics lesson from an unexpected source. Speaking on the timely subject of school violence, Senator Schumer praised the Brady Bill, which he helped sponsor, for its role in preventing crime. Rising to question the effectiveness of this effort at gun control, a student named Kevin Davis cited an example no doubt familiar to his classmates but unknown to the senator from New York:
It reminds me of a Simpsons episode. Homer wanted to get a gun but he had been in jail twice and in a mental institution. They label him as “potentially dangerous.” So Homer asks what that means and the gun dealer says: “It just means you need an extra week before you can get the gun.” (Cantor 1999)
The NSW Government has recently announced some changes to gun laws to help restrict the flow of weapons and ammunition in the wake of a series of shootings.
Most people would not disagree with two aspects of the proposed changes, being (1) a specific offence for drive-by shootings and (2) an increased gaol term for firing at a home as part of an organised criminal activity. Most people would also not take issue with the plan to tighten ammunition sales and carry gun licences when the weapons or their ammunition is in your possession. After all, to drive a car, you need to have your licence with you.
However, those involved in the gun trade, plus farmers and recreational shooters are seemingly outraged, as the Central Western Daily reports:
Bullets & Bits part-owner Ray Hawkins said it was unfair that law-abiding gun owners would be restricted by the proposal.
“Why should we have to prove it [ownership]?” he said.
“It seems to be a knee-jerk reaction.”
Yes, why would anyone need to prove they have a right to access lethal weapons?
Not to be outdone by the Central West’s esteemed publication, the Port Macquarie News reported:
PROPOSED changes to toughen laws around the ownership and sale of ammunition will not reduce firearm crime, a dealer says.
The draft laws put forth by the NSW Government aim to combat organised crime by making it more difficult to buy ammunition for stolen and unregistered weapons.
But Port Macquarie ammunitions dealer David Lenord said the legislation was “stupid”
As this thread on Seabreeze.com.au shows, the discussion can sometimes get a little unruly and nonsensical:
will appease the wallys in la la land that good ol uncle Barry is doing someting tho .Too lttle too late .Just do away with the war on drugs ol mate and the problem will be solved
(I think he was saying gun crime will go away if we stop targeting drug crime?)
Unlike Homer, Barry’s law doesn’t mean you’ll have to wait an extra week to get your gun or ammunition, even if you are “potentially dangerous”. In NSW, it will only mean you wait until you sign the paperwork.
Cantor, P., 1999. Atomistic Politics and the Nuclear Family. Political Theory, 27(6), pp.734-749. Available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2307/20688622 [Accessed April 1, 2012].