Roland Browne - Vice President Gun Control Australia Inc.
I have been involved in the gun control debate for over 25 years; I have keenly observed the debate in Australia, in the United States and in Britain. Each country has vocal proponents on each side of the debate. I have seen the reporting of public mass shootings in Germany, New Zealand, Canada, Norway, Scotland, England and, of course, the US. In each country people have wrung their hands and wept at the loss of life from public mass shootings. Images on television of shocked family members waiting to hear if their loved ones have died or survived the latest mass shooting are universal. There is no distinguishing feature that marks out the impact from country to another.
However, when it comes to one feature, the United States stands apart from everywhere else. That feature is the National Rifle Association or NRA – generally regarded as the most powerful and influential lobbying organisation in the world. The NRA has managed to reduce the issue of gun violence to a cliché. That is, “guns don’t kill. People do”. With the benefit of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution behind it, and also the funding and industrial muscle of one of the world’s largest armaments industry, the NRA can afford to run its public debates on the basis of clichés and a huge advertising budget. Nothing can stand in the way of gun sales and gun ownership; not even a heavy toll on human lives.
In Australia, the experience is vastly different. We have no arms manufacturing industry to speak of. We have no constitutional impediment to gun control and we have what gun control advocates regard as a more apt cliché: “Guns don’t kill, people with guns do”.