Yeah, “What to do?” Well looks like the only solution the Lefties in the Australian news media can come up with is to further disarm law-abiding Australian citizens and leave them helpless to defend themselves against criminals the government is unable or unwilling to stop. Typical.
"Melbourne is in the grip of an unprecedented wave of gun violence." With these words, The Age this week began a three-day investigative series that should concern every citizen of a metropolis that has repeatedly snared the accolade of "world's most liveable city".
Our comprehensive package is about more than liveability; it is a matter of life and death. As gun-related crime has surged, innocent people have been killed in the crossfire, and more will be unless concerted action is taken by those who make laws and those who enforce them.
The facts are chilling and compelling. In as little as five years, gun crimes have more than doubled. Some very dangerous people are involved; in 2015 alone, more than 750 people with serious criminal convictions were caught carrying guns. That's up a staggering five times since 2011. Shootings have literally become a weekly event. Crimes related to firearm possession have more than doubled in the past five years. The number of young criminals has rocketed; almost 1500 people aged between 20 and 34 committed a gun offence last year, more than twice the number five years ago. A culture of carrying, and using, guns is becoming worryingly entrenched in criminal circles.
The escalation rivals the Underbelly War between drug syndicates that shook the city between 1999 and 2005. Drugs are again involved, particularly illicit stimulants, but insidiously those with the guns are not only dealing the drugs, they're consuming them, which adds to the volatility and danger.
What to do? We believe one important response would be to replicate the buyback policy then prime minister John Howard adopted after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, Australia's biggest gun tragedy. Indeed, we believe the policy should be extended to some handguns, which were not part of an amnesty that nevertheless netted 700,000 firearms. Many of the illegal handguns on the streets today date from before 1996. And legal guns have been stolen from their owners and passed on to the illegal market.
It is high time there was another buyback. For the past two years, there have been more legally owned guns in Australia than there were before the Port Arthur massacre.
The Age is always on guard against undue legislation. But we believe there is a clear need to strengthen the law around guns, so we support mooted moves by the Victorian government. Set for the first half of next year, they come after an eight-month review by Victoria Police of firearms laws, and would include a specific offence for drive-by shooting, as well as special new powers, called prohibition orders, for the police, and harsher penalties for the judiciary to impose. The orders would allow police to subject prohibited persons to warrantless searches and ban them from being in proximity to a gun. These laws have been used more than 500 times in NSW since being introduced in 2013.
There should be uniform gun laws across the nation, to prevent loopholes. We must catch up with technology, by prohibiting the use of 3D printers to create firearms.
More focus should be on following the money trail in this nefarious trade, where combat weapons, including machineguns, are being smuggled into the country. We also believe existing laws have not been applied with sufficient force; too many gun criminals, including those with a history of violence or of dangerous mental illness, are being released on parole and given light sentences, only to reoffend.
A criminal culture where guns have become fashion items for deluded thugs and fools is an unacceptable threat to many innocent people, and must be stopped.