Flanked by children who wrote to him after the Sandy Hook shooting last month, Barack Obama today proposed the strictest American gun laws since Bill Clinton’s assault weapons ban in 1994.
He deserves a lot of credit. It won’t be easy to push this legislation through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, and America’s powerful gun lobby will resist, but Obama has signalled that he is willing to fight hard.
The President’s proposal would forbid the purchase of military-style assault weapons by civilians, while also banning high-capacity ammunition magazines and mandating universal background checks for gun buyers.
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All I want for Christmas is… an assault rifle? Seriously?
Despite the oh-so-recent horror of the US school massacre, plenty of Americans were proud to pose with their deadly weapons. Nice.
Anyone here get a gun for Christmas? Discuss your pressies, or anything else, right here.
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Have your heard about the proposed Australian buyback for toy guns?
It’s the brainchild of Adelaide mother Sam Paior, and it has sparked fierce debate across the country. Last week’s Sandy Hook massacre reminded Sam how much she hates to see her two sons, Ben and Bailey, playing with guns.
The boys had a few replica guns they’d bought at the Royal Adelaide Show. So Sam had the idea of a buyback for her sons’ toy guns. If they wanted to, they could hand over their plastic weapons, and she’d give them $5 for each one.
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Plenty of foolish excuses come out of the mouths of pro-gun advocates following tragedies like the recent massacre in Connecticut. However, nothing can hold a candle to Mike Huckabee, former Governor of that bastion of human progress – Arkansas, and a man who once sought the highest office in America.
He even outdid his own previous most ridiculous comment, namely that America would be better off if everyone was “forced at gunpoint to listen to every David Barton message”.
David Barton is an evangelical Christian conservative who argues that the separation of Church and State in the US Constitution is based on a historical porky. I would say he is the David Irving of American Constitutional History; a revisionist on the fringes of history academia, except he isn’t – he has no formal qualifications in either law or history. A stroll on his Wikipedia page tells me that his most recent book won an award as “the least credible history book in print.”
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The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School has most Australians asking ‘When will the United States get serious about gun control?’ Sadly, the answer is not any time soon.
Now is obviously the moment when Barack Obama should emulate John Howard’s stand after the Port Arthur killings but the difference between 1996 and now is insuperable. This is not a question of rational policy-making but a question of faith. For the true believers, the magical power and saving grace of guns is a religious tenet beyond rational argument.
The National Rifle Association’s mantra ‘Guns don’t kill people – People kill people’ has practically become a punchline but for many Americans it’s also a core conviction. Others espouse gun ownership as a bulwark against tyranny. Never mind that the argument was invented in the 18th century when kings relied on mercenaries that a popular rebellion could actually defeat.
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Damn that Obama. He bamboozles you with a powerful speech and it’s only when he’s finished you realise he hasn’t actually committed to anything. Well, he committed to doing something. But it wasn’t gun control, not yet anyway.
It remains to be seen whether America would ever allow a black man to take away their precious guns – but his speech to the mourning people of Newtown offered, at last, a glimmer of hope.
Meanwhile, here, there’s a hint of the smugs about Australian gun control. Why can’t those crazy Yanks be more like us?
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Obama has said that things need to change in the US when it comes to gun culture.
But will it really change? We’re not hopeful.
It’s Tuesday. What’s on your mind?
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Throughout history there have been defining events that have changed the character of a nation and challenged the prevailing mindset of a society.
The horrific mass shooting of twenty children aged between 5 and 10 years along with a number of their teachers at a school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut must be such a moment for the United States.
While the nation grapples with the loss caused by this senseless tragedy, lawmakers must also confront the need for greater gun control.
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He’s the poster boy for bogans, sporting a mullet that would make Warwick Capper blush and has a wife who obviously shares the same hair stylist; however I’d wager there are a lot of guys and girls out there who would love to have Dog the Bounty Hunter’s job.
Kitting out in tactical gear; kicking down doors; dragging bail-jumpers back to prison all for a hefty fee – sure beats sitting at a desk staring at white walls all day.
Dog the Bounty Hunter could also provide the solution to NSW and potentially Australia’s rural pest problem.
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In 2008, the Queensland Labor Government banned shotgunning flying foxes in orchards in response to the Queensland Animal Welfare Advisory Committee judging that shotguns weren’t a humane killing method. The Beattie Government banned duck shooting for the same reason in 2005.
In response, Campbell Newman promised before the last election to reintroduce shotguns in orchards. Why should the pig doggers have all the fun? But there was a legislative requirement that control measures be humane. What to do? Too easy. Get rid of the requirement for humaneness.
As of last Friday, you can now cripple and wound flying foxes without any risk of prosecution for cruelty. Instead there will be a code of practice. This is a familiar trick. Any time you want to do something cruel to an animal, have it put in a code of practice along with a general provision defining all actions done under a code of practice to be outside the welfare jurisdiction. This prevents any uppity RSPCA inspector applying anti-cruelty legislation where it’s not bloody welcome.
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Queensland is looking at easing their gun control laws.
As you can imagine, police aren’t exactly overjoyed at the scissors hovering over this particular set of red tape.
It’s Wednesday. What’s on your mind?
Comments on this post close at 8pm AEST.
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Once again a crazed killer has been thrust into the spotlight, and done the only thing that crazed killers seem to be able to achieve: spark a mass debate around the world concerning the US and their gun laws, which, should be noted, is a debate that will inevitably go nowhere.
Why, we lament, are Americans such idiots and why don’t they ban something that is so incredibly dangerous to their society? Because, they are living in a society where it is perceived as their God-damn-given right to own one if they want to, that’s why.
But surely they can see the damage that it does, right? Well, yes, most of them can see it, but that doesn’t take away the right to have one if they want.
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Sad. Horrific. Tragic.
Three words that can be found instantaneously when reading or watching reports related to the Aurora theatre shooting that occurred in the early hours of Friday July 20th, where 12 were killed and at least 50 injured.
Thirteen years prior, only 15 miles away in Columbine, Americans were all too familiarly ‘shaken’ and ‘shocked’ by similar gun-related violence.
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Australia’s biggest idiot is in our sights again. Nick D’Arcy is trending top five with a bullet on Twitter, and many are saying “so what if he posed with guns after a swim meet in California?”
That’s a fair argument. Another perfectly reasonable argument would be to say that he has shot himself in the foot yet again, and that the trigger should now be pulled on his Olympic dream.
It’s not like the public needed much more ammunition to consider the guy unfit to represent his country. And really, when Dawn Fraser defends you, as she did this morning with D’Arcy and his partner in gun crime Kenrick Monk, you know the target is a loose cannon. After all, Fraser reportedly stuck up for Grant Hackett the other week.
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Bad stuff happens when you drive stolen cars on the footpath.
The footage over the weekend of two Aboriginal youths - both bleeding from bullet wounds and being dragged from a car in Sydney’s Kings Cross - is hard enough to watch from the comfort of your loungeroom. Imagine being the police officers now accused of “shooting at little kids”.
The driver and passenger, just 14 and 18, had been shot after the allegedly stolen vehicle mounted the footpath and ran down a 29-year-old woman.
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There were four shootings in Western Sydney the night before last. Actually, no, make that five. Bullets fired at one home narrowly missed two young children who were playing computer games. It’s a quiet night if only one bullet goes through the front window lately.
So it’s a little disconcerting at first to note that one of the two parties holding the balance of power in the NSW Upper House is the Shooters and Fishers Party (the other being Fred Nile’s Christian Democrats). The O’Farrell government has to deal with them to get its legislative agenda passed over the objections of Labor and the Greens.
Obviously, the Shooters find the recent spate of gun crime in western Sydney abhorrent. They’ve proposed legislation that would make it a separate offence for someone to possess a firearm while committing a crime. It sounds sensible - having a firearm while committing a crime is only an aggravating offence under the current law. But as recently as last year the Shooters were arguing that all kids should be able to perform shooting as a school sport, as students at some private schools are currently allowed.
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About fifteen years ago I spent an inordinate amount of time at One Nation meetings.
The organisation was formed at Sydney’s iconic Rooty Hill RSL, where the parmigianas hang off your plate, and where Pauline Hanson made her first appearance as the party’s national leader before an adoring throng. The adulation was repeated across Australia, at the Gympie Town Hall and Caloundra RSL, in the logging communities of Gippsland, the pensioner enclaves of Bermagui and Batemans Bay.
One Nation received a hefty one million votes at the 1998 election. Its support came from disparate sources – blue-collar voters who disputed the free trade consensus between the major parties, oldies yearning for a whiter Australia – but the political ballast of the party’s support came from tragedy and its aftermath, the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre, which prompted John Howard to implement a national guns buyback just two months into his prime ministership.
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Vince Focarelli – alleged leader of the feared New Boys street gang and, briefly, an Adelaide group of Comancheros bikies – had already walked away from three attempts on his life.
It seemed unlikely that those who wished him harm were about to stop trying.
Last weekend, Focarelli’s aura of invincibility was shattered with tragic results. A hail of gunfire left the man himself with a head wound and claimed the life of his son Giovanni, who was just 22.
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It’s advisable to never get in the way of a woman’s love for fashion and accessories. But now it seems, in the US, you could pay the price by getting your head blown off.
With an 83 per cent increase in women buying firearms in the States, a need to add sparkle, glamour and a supposed feminine touch to a deadly weapon has also arisen. Handguns donning a pink mother-of-pearl grip, Swarovski crystals or Hello Kitty designs are providing colourful options for the gun-toting fashionista.
While a Mail article is quick to blame celebrities such as Rihanna for glamorising guns with her neck tattoo, and heck - while we’re at it - let’s blame Paris Hilton for originally jazzing up a perfectly fine mobile phone to resemble a disco ball. But this latest trend actually exemplifies the core at the gun problem in the States – weapons intended to kill have become accessories.
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It’s been a weird year for weather. Irrigators who haven’t been careful with what they wished for have had their biggest watery dreams overflow. “We need the rain” quickly morphed into “... but not that f..king much!”.
Still, there is one tiny group of Australians that has risked drowning not in floodwaters but in its own salivations as each new wave of rain fuels mounting excitement: the nation’s duck shooters.
Ducks love water and rain acts like an aphrodisiac to shooters. They are probably hard at it right now on a small patch of water near you. For people with a modicum of compassion, this brings the joy of ducklings, but duck shooters have other plans.
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I went shooting recently. A couple of old friends and I spent a few days on a farm in northern NSW which can only be described as a target-rich environment.
I’ve never seen so many rabbits in one place ... between us we nailed about 300 of them and left thousands more chewing up the paddocks.
So numerous were they that at night you could have walked through the pastures with a cricket bat and scored a century.
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