Both the ABC and SBS have been delivering some stunning televised round-tables of late, and following discussions on body image and lockout laws, SBS’ Insight has delved into the nebulous issue of Australian gun laws.
Focussing that topic were victims of the Port Arthur massacre, the politicians involved in gun control laws following the tragedy, and more recent victims of gun crime.
Amongst guests including former Prime Minister John Howard – himself responsible for 1996’s mass firearm buyback – was Alpha Cheng, son of Curtis Cheng, the police accountant shot dead by a 15-year-old extremist in Parramatta last year.
Flanked by avid proponents of legal gun ownership, Cheng told host Jenny Brockie and Howard himself “my dad often joked that he worked in the safest building in Sydney, so I guess there’s some real dark irony there.”
“But then it shows it was never something something that we were concerned about and part of that is because of the policies the Howard government brought in.”
And that point gets close to the central tension of the issue: personal liberties versus public safety. If responsible Australian gun owners – and the vast majority are responsible – are vehemently against using their firearms for violence, why is it fair they fall under the blanket restrictions put forward by politicians like Howard?
In a thoughtful companion piece to the episode, Cheng said “the pro-gun members of the audience challenged my preconceptions.
After hearing their perspective, I acknowledge the need for pragmatic gun laws for recreational users, sport shooters and people living on the land.However, this should not, and I believe it does not, contradict the need for tightening gun policy to prevent guns from being obtained illegally or for illegal means.”
— Insight on SBS (@insightSBS) April 5, 2016
Cheng wrote “we hear a lot about personal freedom in this debate and I believe that the freedoms we have in Australia are precious.
The freedom to be able to walk where you want and not fear for your safety: that is our right as Australians.It is now the responsibility of decision makers to maintain and protect this.”