Howard and Latham on guns

There’s an election coming up in Australia. I haven’t blogged about it because other people are doing a much better job than I ever could. A special plug though, for Tom Vogelgesang, who is running for Senate on a libertarian platform and has the good judgement to run a blog, choose to study computer science at UNSW and live in Maroubra.

However, I will comment on what the two rival candidates for Prime Minister have to say about guns. Prime Minister John Howard (Interview on 2GB 17 Apr 02: listen)

we will find any means we can to further restrict them because I hate guns. I don’t think people should have guns unless they’re police or in the military or in the security industry. There is no earthly reason for people to have … ordinary citizens should not have weapons. We do not want the American disease imported into Australia.”

(Via John Tingle. Whole interview is here).

Mark Latham, Leader of the Opposition (letter to the Shooters Party):

In conjunction with its State colleagues, Labor will work with sporting and recreational shooting organisations to control the criminal use of firearms without adversely affecting legitimate sporting and recreational shooters.

I strongly disagree with Howard and agree with Latham here. I think law-abiding sporting and recreational shooters should be allowed to have guns and banning such ordinary citizens from having weapons is wrong. Howard is also the architect of the 1996 gun ban which I have already said was bad policy. Now I had already decided to support Latham over Howard because of other issues, but it’s still nice to be supporting the party with the better policy on firearms issues. John Tingle, MLC for the Shooters Party writes:

In my opinion, it’s hard to believe we could be any worse off under Latham than we are under Howard, and, because I’m an optimist, I believe from my conversation with him and from the letter, and from frequent contact I had with him in my radio days, that if he becomes the next Prime Minister, a very real and present threat will be lifted from Australia s LAFO’s [Law Abiding Firearm Owners].


  1. #1 countertop
    September 22, 2004

    I haven’t been following this election too closely because we have our own little contest going on right now in the states.

    I was wondering though, what outcome are the polls predicting? If Latham wins, will the public generally credit this issue (is there really as much anger over the gun ban as we in the US are led to believe)? How much is the Iraq war an issue?

  2. #2 Tim Lambert
    September 22, 2004

    The polls seem to show that Labor is very slightly ahead on votes, but what matters is whether they can pick up anough votes in the marginal seats. If there are a big swings against the coalition in rural seats then that may well be put down to the gun issue. This is what happened to Barrie Unsworth in 1988.

    Iraq is an issue but not the dominant one since Australia no longer has any significant forces there.

  3. #3 mark
    September 23, 2004

    I agree with Tim here; however, it should be noted that there is nowhere near as much anger in Australia as the NRA tried to tell y’all a few years back. Howard’s stance on gun control soon after the Port Arthur massacre made him unpopular with small numbers of people within the voter base of the party he’s in coalition with. There might be enough people in this category to effect a swing, though personally I doubt it.

    The majority of Australians — correctly or not — supported Howard’s policies back then.

  4. #4 Kristjan Wager
    September 25, 2004

    Now I had already decided to support Latham over Howard because of other issues, but it’s still nice to be supporting the party with the better policy on firearms issues.

    Not to be pedantic or anything, but isn’t it a little bombastic to call it “the better policy”? You might agree with it, but it doesn’t necessarily means that it is better.

    I’m not against Latham’s stance (though I would very much want to know what is considered “recreational shooting” before giving it my full support), yet I realize that for some people Howard’s stance is “better”.

  5. #5 Grant B
    October 3, 2004


    Here’s two descriptions of ‘recreational shooting’:

    1) Licenced people going to a licenced firearms range with their licenced firearms and shooting at paper targets or flying pieces of clay whilst wearing eye and ear protection, all under the control of an accredited range officer.

    2) Licenced people going to a rural property with their licenced firearms to destroy declared feral pest species whose populations have boomed in certain areas as a result of drought conditions in a one-shot manner, or hunting game animals for meat with a licence from the Game Council of NSW (a statutory body). Hunting declared pest species such as wild dogs, feral cats, foxes, rabbits etc ensure that smaller native species such as quolls etc aren’t themselves hunted and aren’t competing for their food supply with these introduced species.

    Both are pastimes that extend back in Australia’s history as far back as 1844 (organised target shooting began in .au). It’s not knowing what these activities consist of that’s a relatively new thing…

    The genuine reasons for which a person in NSW can legally possess and use a firearm are listed here:

  6. #6 ThinkTank
    October 3, 2004

    whats the point in saying its wrong, fewer guns fewer gun crimes. And legal gun owners are the number one source for crime guns.

  7. #7 tony
    October 7, 2004

    I’m a constant critic of John Howard, but, IMHO, his most praiseworthy action was taking on the gun lobby after the Port Authur massacre. He made the country a safer place by removing semi-automatic weapons from the general population, and he proved the gun lobby was really a noisy pressure group with limited political clout.

  8. #8 Roughneck Jase
    October 10, 2004


    If you are critical of John Howard but praise him for what he did after Port Arthur, then you are a hypocrite and a fool for holding those views.

    John Howard doesn’t care about making Australia safer, he only cares about enhancing his ego, building a poltical legacy for himself to rival Robert Menzies’, and is willing to exploit two tragic events like Port Arthur and Monash University for his own selfish gains and goals.

    In fact tony, Australia was far safer when over 640,000 semi-automatic rifles, semi-automatic shotguns and pump-action shotguns were legal for licenced, law-abiding, recreational firearm owners.

    Get a life.

  9. #9 Tim Lambert
    October 10, 2004

    Tony and Jase: You are both wrong. Howard’s gun grab made very little difference to public safety. (Which is why I opposed it.)

  10. #10 Roughneck Jase
    October 11, 2004

    Tim Lambert,
    I agree with your views on Howard’s little gun grab has made very little difference to public saftey. I am only pointing out that John Howard exploited the emotions of a grieving Australia in the aftermaths of both Port Arthur and Monash University to push the bans he wanted in without faer of a serious opposition and without any shame.

    We are both on the same side here and I enjoy reading your website because it does provide information on how stupid our nation’s gun laws really are as well as show the retards who always come out to defend them like the lemmings they are.

  11. #11 anonymous
    August 27, 2005

    tony, how can you say that removing semiautomatic weapons and pump action shotguns has made australia safer. since the 1996 firearms laws were introduced gun crime has been steadily increasing. and licencing is a con. do you really think that the criminals handed in their guns? no only the honest people handed them in so now we have the honest people left without guns they have a right to. and the laws aren’t going to stop crims buying guns anyway you can buy a pistol from most bikie gangs for a few hundred dollars without any questions asked. so I think its time to give the honest citizens a fair go and target the criminals. oh yeah for the record out of all the gun related crimes in 2004 only 2% of firearms used were registered firearms.

  12. #12 Ben
    October 24, 2005


    What the hell are you on about? People aren’t allowed to get a gun license if they have a criminal record. If you have anything higher than a parking fine, you won’t be able to get a license.

    It’s because of people like you that bullshit like this happens. You put your own personal opinion ahead of fact; and try to force it upon all others, ignoring the principals of individual freedom. *[Deleted]*

  13. #13 Ian Gould
    October 24, 2005


    What I believe Think Tank is saying is that legally owned guns are either stolen or sold and end up being used in crimes.

  14. #14 z
    October 24, 2005

    “What I believe Think Tank is saying is that legally owned guns are either stolen or sold and end up being used in crimes.”

    I don’t know the particulars of Australian law, but this seems similar to the odd syllogism aversion of the American gun-law-disdainers.


    1) Criminals will always be able to get guns.

    2) Existing laws already prevent gun sales to criminals.


    Therefore, criminals must be getting guns sold to non-criminals by some means.



  15. #15 Ben
    October 25, 2005

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