• Sydney, Australia

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I
would like to thank Joseph Marriott for his Nov. 30 letter reply, “Government should fear the people,” to my earlier letter. His assertion “that citizens of any country should never trust their government so completely as to deprive themselves of the means to overthrow that government should events require it” implies that the only way to overthrow an untrustworthy government is by arms. In Australia, we have a federal election about every three years. If we do not like what the government is doing, we boot it out. We do not have paranoia about government.

The dilemma with an armed citizenry can be seen in the Port Arthur Massacre of April 28, 1996. A deranged gunman killed 35, mostly holidaymakers, in Tasmania. I was in Japan at the time. When I returned to Australia years later, there were still murmurs about how as a nation we could allow such a disaster to happen. It brought into focus the “right to bear arms.” The consequent result was the imposition of a ban on guns Australia-wide, with some qualified exceptions.

Former Prime Minister John Howard adequately expressed the general view toward firearms in Australia when he said: “We will find any means we can to further restrict them because I hate guns. . . . ordinary citizens should not have weapons. We do not want the American disease imported into Australia.”

Marriott asks if I am aware of the increase in crime in Australia since the introduction of more gun-control laws?

The implication that gun crime has increased since the introduction of “more gun-control laws” is a fallacy. From the verifiable statistics I have found, between 1995 and 2005, the total number of criminal incidents involving a firearm in NSW (New South Wales) is now about 44 percent lower than its peak in 1997, according to figures released by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (Sept. 27, 2006).

The coincidence of a firearms ban with fewer criminal incidents involving firearms would tend to imply that fewer guns in the hands of citizenry leads to lesser crime involving firearms. Criminals bearing firearms do not care about the law. I suspect they are not composed enough to care if their victims are armed or not. Who really knows? A “right to bear arms” will hardly be a cause for fear in someone who behaves so irrationally.

darryl mcgarry

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