The Dark Background to Gun Legislation (III)

The Judeo-Christian and constitutionally mandated relationship between government power and individual liberty is not balance. It is bias – a bias in favour of liberty. All presumptions should favour the natural rights of individuals, not the delegated and seized powers of the government. Individual liberty, not government power, is the default position because persons are immortal and created in God’s image, and governments are temporary and based on force.[1]

Southern Brisbane and the Gold Coast area have suffered a spate of armed hold-ups this year. The typical scenario is that criminals enter a shop, threaten and hold up the attendant with a gun, a knife or a syringe, demanding money. In one April robbery, a man was bound in a chair, beaten repeatedly around the head and had a cord tied around his neck, and he was threatened with strangulation.

There have also been a number of break and enter crimes, where thieves have entered shops at night and stolen electronic goods. Recently, fourteen youths were caught on video forcing their way into a shop.

This is all bad, but it gets worse. Last year, an angry tenant entered a Brisbane real estate agency, began arguing with a female staff member about his rent, and then produced a pistol and killed her, before turning the gun on himself. In April, two people were shot and wounded by a gunman, in a shopping centre at Robina.

What are owners of retail outlets supposed to do? Naturally, they would want to protect their staff and innocent passers-by from violence and death. Many would want to buy and have fire-arms on hand in case of a threat.

But they can’t. In Queensland, although 600,000 firearms are owned by members of the community,[2] we are expressly forbidden by law from purchasing firearms for the purpose of self-defence.

We have friends that live on a 4,000 acre farm in western Queensland. Dad’s involved in carting grain, and can be away from home for weeks at a time. His wife’s at home with four children under twelve. Her husband has guns at home, but she doesn’t have a gun licence.

If strangers were to arrive at her home who she considered a threat, what options does she have? She’d be breaking to law to open the gun-safe and take out a gun for self-protection, but it would take police about 90 minutes to get to her home in an emergency, should she be able to call.

It’s no surprise to learn that blanket prohibition policy often comes with unintended consequences. It is no different with firearms than it is with drugs or as the Americans found with … the prohibition of alcohol…

…Restrictions on gun ownership in Australia, enacted in 1996 have not brought organised crime to heel. Rather it has added a new string to its bow and made it more lethal than ever before.[3]

Are guns themselves the problem? They never have been. Why? Widespread firearm ownership doesn’t equate to more criminal activity. It means that in a crisis, innocent people can protect themselves. Switzerland has a militia of 400,000, but a very low incidence of gun related violence.                              

…there is another side to the gun story, and University of Houston Professor Larry Bell relates it:

“Law-abiding citizens in America used guns in self-defence 2.5 million times in 1993 (about 6,825 times per day), and actually shot and killed two and a half times as many criminals as police did (1,527 to 606)…” [4]


Conservatives historically have been suspicious about expansions of government power,  which restrict individual freedoms. The twentieth century, when we witnessed government’s abuse of power around the world far beyond anything in the past, bore out those suspicions.

Conservatives historically have believed people should be able to protect themselves from criminals, whether in the form of individuals, or operating as an arm of government. To presume that a community is any safer when its firearms are removed, is to assume that violent crime is a mechanical, non-person problem. The fact is that criminals love gun control – it makes it easier for them to commit crime. When any law indirectly gives criminals more power in the community than law-abiding people, it means that government has become contemptuous of the innocent, an intolerable situation in a free society.

The people who had been forced to give their guns up [in the Australian buy-back] were never a threat to social order. Meanwhile prohibition has created yet another branch of profit for those who use guns without conscience or hindrance.[5]

The fact is that preventing law abiding people from having firearms doesn’t make any society safer. To think this has been beneficial for the Australian community or anyone else is to ignore the facts about firearms.

Now, political conservatives can lead the way out of this gun-law debacle. Laws preventing law-abiding people from owning firearms for self-protection must be removed, before innocent people perish. When it’s your wife or daughter in the house with her children and strangers come unannounced, what options should she have? A gun in the hand is better than a cop on the phone. And if our government ever tramples on the rights of innocent people (and every nation has suffered this in history), what options should we have to respond?

The final question in relation to the public’s access to firearms, is this:

Do we conservatives really believe in the liberty of the individual and the rights of innocent people to protect themselves?

[1] Andrew Napolitano, “Where is the Outrage?” Lew Rockwell’s website, 7/6/2012.

[2] The Qld Police Commissioner, quoted in “Queensland Police Minister vows crackdown on illegal guns after shootings,” “TheAustralian,” 19/4/2012.

[3] Jack the Insider, “The Australian,” “Lawmakers, Guns and Money,” 13/1/2012.

[4] Pat Buchanan, “America is an Armed Camp,” Lew Rockwell website, 4/4/2012.

[5] See Jack the Insider, above.