Mike's Minute: Will our gun reforms actually make a difference?

Mike Hosking,
Publish Date
Friday, 22 March 2019, 9:53AM


It looks like we have a broad consensus on gun control. Although you could argue it isn't gun control, it's gun control of a sort.

The most egregious of the weapons will be bought back, there is limited scope for farmers and hunters.

It is about the minimum they could do, and given the Attorney General announced it last Saturday, perhaps too eagerly, they were kind of committed.

But no gun register, no ammunition tracking, there are things that you might have argued could have been done that aren't. As to why, we can speculate, but perhaps that’s for another day.

The phrase used a lot this week is "the world has changed." The world hasn’t changed, our world has, but the rest of the world has been grappling with this for years now. Ironically, the buyback scheme is connected with Port Arthur, an event 25 years ago. So yes, new for us, but hardly new elsewhere.

This is my concern, good law is the result of an event or desire, and it addresses the issue in which it arose. This is our tangible specific reaction to this time last week.

There is also the security review, and a much less tangible angst over social media that I suspect ultimately will go nowhere. The security review, I suspect is where the real lessons lie, but that too is perhaps for another day.

But, on guns, this is designed to do what? Can we say it will prevent another attack? I'd like to see the person who's bold enough to make that claim.

Can we say it's likely to reduce the chances of another attack? Easier line to walk, but still, I would have thought very risky.

So what actually does it do? Does it lessen the number of weapons? Yes. Can you argue that high powered assault rifles aren't all that necessary? Yes.

But to the very reason we are here, the direct connection between last Friday and this, what is it exactly we are achieving apart from the numerical exercise of reducing gun numbers?

Could we argue little or nothing? I think we can. Why? Because drugs are illegal, and I don’t see them gone from our streets. The two are linked, and they are linked by the simple premise that, if you want them, you will get them.

It's an age, old argument around gun control, bad people will get their hands on what they need to get their hands on. It's always been true.

The logic has just this time been trumped by the overwhelming desire for something to be seen to be done.

We, in a way, are lucky a license was involved. What if those guns last Friday were illegal? What would we have done then? Would we have still banned assault rifles?

Last Friday gave us the impetuous to act in a tangible way, a reaction that is so often required in such catastrophic situations. It’s a reassurance move, a confidence move, and something we can see and hold onto.

But does it fix what drove us to act? Given it doesn't, are we realistic enough to realise that, recognise that, and accept it might just be, evil is global, laws don’t stop it, and if we are here again then what?

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