WATCH: Curtis Cheng’s Son Questioned Our Gun Laws On A Charged ‘Insight’

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.”

His question of whether another large-scale amnesty to reduce the number of unregistered and illegal firearms in Australia would be worthwhile was also met with approval from the former PM. 

Robert Brown of the Shooters And Fishers Party told Cheng the firearm that was used to kill his father was an unregistered revolver; he also said avid shooters were more adamantly against similar illegally-owned weapons than the general populace, due to the disrepute owning such weapons brings to the sport. 

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.”
It was an emotionally-charged show with many valid points raised on all sides of the debate; in particular, Port Arthur victim Carolyn Loughton said Brown’s opposition to mandatory waiting periods to purchase a Category 3 firearm paled in comparison to the time she’d spent dealing with her injuries: 

Again, that viewpoint shows how the concept of personal responsibility and self-reliance backs up against the case for public safety and blanket regulations to safeguard against the few who will use their firearms for violence. . It’s a bloody tough one. 
We’ve pretty plainly seen elsewhere that restricting the responsible majority for the deeds of a minority *cough* lockouts *cough* isn’t ideal, but perspectives like Cheng’s further prove the need for more action – with finesse – in the realm of gun laws. 

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.”
Source and photo: Insight / SBS.