Firearms Culture – A Follow up on my Video
A couple of months ago I did a video explaining my beliefs regarding firearm culture. In the video I explained how I had received several petitions regarding the scrapping of the National Firearms Agreement, but how the goal of the petitions seemed to be having firearm legislation changed to allow people to defend themselves with firearms.
Firearm culture is very important, but also complex. There are lots of factors to consider when trying to discuss culture, including history; legislation; socioeconomics and legislation. To understand the forces driving firearm crime numbers up (or down) the culture needs to be considered.
I would like to explain in more detail what I believe to me a major indicator of firearm culture; the shaping of culture and the potential issues associated with a diminished firearm culture.
Legislation and National Service
I mentioned in a previous blog that I believe there to be a correlation between National Service and gun crime. This isn’t to say that National Service causes gun crime, or that everyone (or anyone) who enters National Service returns violent or is more likely to be a criminal.
If a country has compulsory National Service, it is because it perceives a threat and wants to ensure its protection. Fear is a powerful weapon the government uses to justify National Service. The population are trained (many with firearms) to prepare for this threat and this training cements the need to be fearful. This shapes a Nation’s firearm culture – the Nation is under threat; the population must prepare to defend itself; you need to be fearful; defend the Nation with a weapon; firearms are a weapon.
I do not make this assertion lightly. I have researched this correlation and mapped many rates of homicide; homicide with a firearm; firearm ownership and National Service (or the abolition of National Service) in coming to this conclusion.
The Shaping of Culture
In Australia we don’t have Legislated National Service and haven’t since the 70’s. The bulk of firearms owned in Australia are either tools or toys, not weapons. This combination of low fearfulness and a recreational firearms culture means Australia has enjoyed a minimal violent crime rate with firearms.
Legislation isn’t the only way to shape a Nations attitude toward firearms, but it can have a big part in it. Politicians are charged with writing legislation that reflects the ethics and morals held by the general population, but the enforcement of this legislation is also important for culture. For example, legislation prohibiting murder is very important, but if the judiciary gave murderers lenient sentences the population would feel they weren’t enacting the law in the spirit it was written. There wouldn’t be a level of deterrent at a judicial level and murders would increase as a result. So, while the legislation is sound, it is undermined on another level.
The same goes for firearm legislation. The legislation may be written relatively sound, but unless it is policed correctly it may undermine the intent and result in a diminished firearm culture.
A Culture of Recreation
Recreational shooting is the primary reason for owning a firearm in Australia. Recreational shooting is written into legislation as a genuine reason for owning a firearm;
- (2) A person has a genuine reason for acquiring or possessing a firearm or ammunition if and only if —
(c) it is for use in hunting or shooting of a recreational nature on land the owner of which has given written permission for that hunting or shooting; or
If legislation can be used to enforce a negative firearm culture, where firearms are primarily seen as a weapon that you need to defend yourself, then it’s equally correct to say that legislation can drive positive firearm culture, with guns seen as sporting equipment or tools. Therefore, to undermine sound legislation encouraging recreational firearm use is to undermine our positive firearm culture.
If we want to minimise firearm crime, we need to simultaneously encourage good firearm culture and ward off bad firearm culture. We need to expose people to shooting in a positive recreational environment. We need to discourage illegal or unlawful firearm ownership. I do not think these priorities are reflected by our current Police Firearms Licensing department.
Many current Western Australian Police Licensing policies are making it harder and harder for lawful firearm owners to enjoy recreational shooting. Examples include the interpretation of Regulation 26 (B); the restrictions placed upon certain rifle ranges; the interpretation of Legislation section 11 surrounding genuine reason/need/justification; increased storage requirements for dealers; transport requirements and others. By placing these obstacles in front of recreational shooters, the Police are discouraging shooting in positive recreational environments. While Police Licensing may claim to working in the best interests of the public in the short term, it is not a good long-term strategy to erode away our culture.
To view the previously mentioned video, click here.