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Old July 13, 2010, 03:59 PM   #1
nemo2econ
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Australian gun laws and perspectives

G'day mate.

I just read this editorial in a major Australian paper in response to the McDonald Supreme Court decision in the United States. The editorial was written by David Weisbrot, a "professor of legal policy at the United States Studies Centre, University of Sydney" and a "professor of law and governance at Macquarie University".

He is very much against any relaxation of the existing strict and restrictive Australian gun laws, and worries that the US court decision could lead some in Australia to push for changes.

I'm not interested in this post becoming a place to castigate the gentleman for his views. His views are fine; they are his.

What I am interested in is: What other perspectives on gun laws can get published in any major Australian media outlet? More generally, what other perspectives on armed self-defense (self-defence, in UK spelling) exist in Australia and are being pushed from the bottom up, even if they can't get published in the mainstream Australian media?

UPDATE: Here is the link: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/busi...-1225889563331
Sorry I neglected to include it earlier this afternoon.

Last edited by nemo2econ; July 13, 2010 at 11:07 PM.
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Old July 13, 2010, 04:36 PM   #2
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Nemo, is there an online link to the editorial?
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Old July 13, 2010, 07:52 PM   #3
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I may be misunderstanding what it is you're driving at - I've had a few drinks tonight - but I'd like to point out anyway that in many non-free societies, the internet has become the de facto voice of freedom. Ways have been found in the last few years so that some countries (China, in particular), are now able to surpress this source of truth and freedom from their people, but I don't think Australia does this.

So, I'd think that an Australian newspaper editorial, or newspaper feature article about guns and gunowners, that publized the internet address of, and the free exchange of ideas to be found in this forum (and other similar forums) might be one of the best ways to introduce thinking Australians to the pro side of the gun argument (in America, anyway), and to keep them abreast of it.
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Old July 14, 2010, 11:14 AM   #4
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Write a letter to the editor. They may or may not print it but it should get read by someone.

And you can often comment on articles in foreign newspapers as on this blog. FWIW I have done both, if mainly with UK papers.
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Old July 14, 2010, 11:51 AM   #5
Glenn E. Meyer
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My take on the Australian situation was that most Australians didn't see gun rights as a fundamental right. They weren't seen as truly needed for self-defense or defense against tyranny.

Those who proposed that were nutters (a quote). The majority of gun owners also didn't make the rights argument but tried the sports argument - that Aussies must have a sport and this was theirs. So leave it alone. But the sports argument went nowhere after their rampage killing.

This is a take from some Aussie social scientists - some anti and some who are progun (from the rights perspective).

It's a problem of competing evaluations of guns. Certainly, they are dangerous and used for evil. Trying to negate this argument with the tool analogy and blaming it on the user, doesn't go anywhere outside of the gun choir. You must make the case that the utility of the firearm outweighs the bad behaviors that are enhanced by firearms usage.

The good usages are:

1. Self-defense
2. Defense against tyranny
3. Backup for your armed forces
4. Sports

In the USA, 1 has the most traction as in Heller. Some folks buy into 2. No one buys into invasion scenarios by other nations. You might argue Katrina and the border but Red Dawn makes you look silly.

Sports - kind of a variant of the tool argument. Folks are trying to make ARs harmless by pointing out sporting uses. However, outside of the choir, that doesn't fly either. You could play with other things and guns

You have to make the case on 1 and 2. If a country doesn't see that - then you are sunk for gun rights.
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Old July 14, 2010, 01:33 PM   #6
Frank Ettin
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn E. Meyer
...You must make the case that the utility of the firearm outweighs the bad behaviors that are enhanced by firearms usage.

The good usages are:

1. Self-defense
2....
3....
4....
.....

...You have to make the case on 1 and 2. If a country doesn't see that - then you are sunk for gun rights.
And a very worrisome factor is that in today's world self defense is not universally respected, or even acknowledged. There are influential people and groups who specifically oppose, on principle, self defense.

See, for example, Armed by Gary Kleck and Don Kates (Prometheus Books, 2001). On pages 116 - 121, they discuss various liberal, moral objections to the notion that one may be justified to defend himself.

Feminist Betty Frienden is cited as denouncing the trend of women to arm themselves for self defense as, "...a horrifying, obscene perversion of feminism...." Her ridiculous notion that , "...lethal violence even in self defense only engenders more violence and that gun control should override any personal need for safety...." is probably widely held in liberal circles. Indeed, according to Kleck and Kates, Mario Cuomo avowed that Bernie Goetz was morally wrong in shooting even if it was clearly necessary to resist felonious attack.

Kleck and Kates also report that an article was published by the Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church condemning defensive gun ownership. In the article, Rev. Allen Brockway, editor of the board's magazine, advised women that it was their Christian duty to submit to rape rather than do anything that might imperil the attacker's life.

Kleck and Kates also note that the Presbyterian Church (U. S. A.) has taken a strict anti-self defense view. Rev. Kathy Young testified as a representative of that group before a Congressional Panel in 1972 in support of handgun control that the Presbyterian Church (U. S. A.) opposes the killing of anyone, anywhere for any reason (including, in the context of the testimony, self defense)

While these positions appear to us to be nonsense, they have some following. Note, for example that self defense is not considered in many countries to be a good reason to own a gun. Indeed in Great Britain, the natural right of self defense has been significantly curtailed by law. For an excellent study of the erosion of gun and self defense rights in Great Britain see Guns and Violence, the English Experience by Joyce Lee Malcolm (Harvard University Press, 2002).

The point of the foregoing is that the universal acceptance of the right of self defense can not be taken for granted.

(However, the Roman Catholic Church takes a much more sensible view of things. Under its doctrine, one's life is a gift from God and one has a moral obligation to preserve it even if doing so means taking the life of an attacker. Unfortunately, as outlined by Kleck and Kates, this rational perspective is not universally accepted.)
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Old July 14, 2010, 11:21 PM   #7
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Good comments Glenn Meyer and fiddletown.

To Glenn's point, I should probably mention again "The Human Right of Self-Defense" article published in the BYU Journal of Public Law, vol. 22, pp 43-178, in 2008. It is by David Kopel et al. It may be downloaded from the link.

Quote:
Does a woman have a human right to resist rape or murder? Do people have a human right to resist tyranny? The United Nations Human Rights Council has said no - that international law recognizes no human right of self-defense. To the contrary, the Human Rights Council declares that very severe gun control - more restrictive than even the laws of New York City - is a human right.

Surveying international law from its earliest days to the present, this Article demonstrates that self-defense is a widely-recognized human right which no government and no international body have the authority to abrogate. The issue is especially important today, as many international advocates of international gun prohibition are using the United Nations to deny and then eliminate the right of self-defense. For example, the General Assembly is creating an Arms Trade Treaty which would define arms sales to citizens in the United States as a human rights violation, because American law guarantees the right to use lethal force, when no lesser force will suffice, against a non-homicidal violent felony attack.

The article analyzes in detail the Founders of international law - the great scholars in the fourteenth through eighteenth centuries who created the system of international law. The Article then looks at the major legal systems which have contributed to international law, such as Greek law, Roman law, Spanish law, Jewish law, Islamic law, Canon law, and Anglo-American law.

In addition, the article covers the full scope of contemporary international law sources, including treaties, the United Nations, constitutions from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.
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Old July 15, 2010, 06:41 AM   #8
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the problem with the argument that a person should not use force to

protect themselves is that debate ends with the person....

I will acknowledge you have the right to not resist or fight someone attacking you, that is your personal choice...

what I will not acknowledge is if that same attacker is then going to harm the 3 children (weaker individuals) who are hiding behind you. If one even has the slightest chance of protecting them, then they are morally obligated to do so.
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Old July 15, 2010, 09:11 AM   #9
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Fiddletown - great post. I went to a criminology meeting where they had Oyster and Stange (wrote Gun Women) in a panel. A woman participant was appalled at gun defense. She taught martial arts and felt that even a weak woman could defend herself with piercing shrieks and hard slaps. Guns adopted a male paradigm of violence. Ms. magazine denounced SW for the new Ladysmith models when they came out.

In a sense, I understand their point. Violence is abhorrent and adopting the instrumentality of violence seems morally objectionable. It would be better to eliminate violence without more of it and training for it. Unfortunately, that isn't reality.
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Old July 15, 2010, 11:32 PM   #10
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Soviet communism had little to recommend it, but it did have one concept that I think was valid and that was the concept of an "enemy of the people." (The problem was that the Soviets identified the wrong people as enemies. They should have started their list with Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky.)

The longer I live the more convinced I am that there is indeed a category of person who should be identified as an "enemy of the people". While any person certainly has the right to deny himself or herself the means of self defense against an abuser, or rapist, or murderer, when that person seeks to remove the natural right of self defense from the general public, then that person has entered into the realm of "an enemy of the people" in my book.

I'm not saying there should be a legal punishment for such people, but I do think we should appropriate the term "enemy of the people" and use it to identify those who are. Labels of odium can be a very effective substitute for tar and feathers sometimes; just ask "the Beast", aka Gen."Spoons" Butler how long they can follow you.

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Old July 15, 2010, 11:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DG45
...The longer I live the more convinced I am that there is indeed a category of person who should be identified an "enemy of the people"....
I'm sure you find the concept attractive as long as you can decide who should be classed as an enemy of the people. How much do you think you'd like it if someone else, with different values, were doing the deciding?
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Old July 16, 2010, 09:01 AM   #12
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Enemy of the people - nope, thoughts are not a crime. Someone else's odious thoughts might be a good view of liberty to others.

Reading about the Ayatollah's take over of Iran - lots of folks became enemies of how he defined the state and God.
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Old July 16, 2010, 12:57 PM   #13
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Thats just the point fiddletown, someone else did the deciding on who was labeled an "enemy of the people"until the Soviet bloc fell, and I didn't like it. The difference was that it was a crime in the Soviet Union to be an "enemy of the people" and I'm not proposing the criminalization of anyone. I'm just suggesting that we should latch onto the concept that there are such people and do the deciding of who is one ourselves, and then let someone else not like it.

Glenn, you're putting words in my mouth. I didn't say "thoughts" were a crime that should be punished, and although the people I was referring to are those who have moved well beyond "thoughts", to "acts", in trying to force their anti-2nd Amendment views on the general public, I didn't say there was anything illegal about that either, nor that it was anything that is or that should be punishible by law, but would you have us not hurt their feelings either?

All I'm suggesting is that we call such people what they are, and IMHO no better term could describe what they are than "enemies of the people" for they are truly enemies of the peoples natural and constitutional rights. Nothing wrong with hanging a tag on them that fits them perfectly as far as I can see.
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Old July 16, 2010, 01:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DG45
...All I'm suggesting is that we call such people what they are, and IMHO no better term could describe what they are than "enemies of the people" for they are truly enemies of the peoples natural and constitutional rights. Nothing wrong with hanging a tag on them that fits them perfectly as far as I can see....
But hanging such a label on people has generally been only the first strep on the road to hanging them. And it all depends on who is doing the labeling.

For someone who plans to start down that sort of path, history gives him some fine role models. Robespierre, Stalin, Hitler and Mussolini come immediately to mind. Personally, I want no part of it.
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Old July 16, 2010, 01:40 PM   #15
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"Enemy of the People," isn't that a lot like, say, "Illegal Enemy Combatant?" (aka Unlawful Enemy Combatant) See Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.

We are getting far afield of the OP. Let's bring it back, shall we?
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Old July 16, 2010, 03:41 PM   #16
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The Australian fellow comes to us for help. Why? Because he's denied rights that we enjoy, and he's doing what he can do to turn things around in his own land. We offer him - our friend - what comfort we can, but in the end, there's little we can do for him. We can't even agree on how to help ourselves.

This Australian fellow actually helps us much more than we help him because in his powerless distress, he shows us what awaits us too, if we are unwilling to do what it takes to hold onto our own 2nd amendment rights. With due apologes to John Donne, we need not ask not for whom this particular bell tolls; it tolls for us.

If we don't want to one day be standing in this fellows shoes ourselves, we have to WIN the hearts and minds of our countrymen in our internal political battles to protect our 2nd Amendment rights, or put another way, we have to cause our opponents in these battles to LOSE the hearts and minds of our countrymen.

Political labels matter in political fights. They influence public opinion. We have never learned that. We have always allowed ourselves to be the ones cast in a negative light. Thats been a terrible mistake IMHO. We need to fight our way out of that corner. We can do it by adopting all the most positive labels for ourselves, i.e., "majority"; "traditional"; law-abiding", etc. and assigning all the negative labels to our opponents. "Enemy of the people" would be a very powerful and very appropriate label to tie to some of these folks.

The readers and contributors to this particular law and civil rights forum are among the most knowledgeable, the most erudite, and the most intellectual folks in our overall forum membership (which is probably why I rarely intrude here). You, the confident knowledgeable few, are the folks that we, the puzzled masses, look to, for leadership and the path to VICTORY, which as Barry Goldwater once said, there is no substitute for.

I myself am neither particularly knowledgeable, erudite, nor intellectual, but I do know that it will be better if we take the gloves off and win these fights to hold on to and expand our constitutional 2nd amendment rights, that it will be to lose those rights by too strict adherence to Marquis de Queensbury rules.
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Old July 16, 2010, 05:20 PM   #17
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DG45, I agree with your analysis and where the "slippery slope" will take us if we are not vocal and effective in that endeavor.

The Tea Party trend has brought a lot of people into action who otherwise have not done a lot. They finally see what is happening and are appalled.

I agree that there are "enemies of the people". Junior's economic policies are disastrous for all but a few. In that regard, those who enacted them, broadly, are "enemies of the people". However, that concept and how we explain/express it cannot borrow from the Soviets. People react and don't listen, so you have to find a way to explain it without getting a reaction that shuts down someone's ears.

My soapbox routine, for example, about the 2nd Amendment does not address "guns". Or the "right to have a gun", etc. I reach back into its genesis, before firearms were in wide use, when personal security was an issue, and "arms", kept and borne, were the solution. And that your heartbeat is something of great consequence, not to be surrendered on a whim. These facts of life have not changed, if the technology has. And when firearms are passe (Robert Heinlein wrote a book about this, where his main character resurrected the 1911 in preference to the "phasers" in common use) the basic human nature issues of evil people preying on those weaker than they, will be the same.

I cringe when people talk about "gun rights". It isn't that to me, but my right to self-defense AND an effective means to exercise that right. I am in good shape for my vintage, but I can't hope to take on four young men in a head-bashing contest and win, without my 1911 or its equivalent. Violence is abhorrent, maybe once or twice I have really wanted to make war instead of love.

My point is that it appears a "self-defense" theme beats the tar out of "I gotta right to have guns". The difference between the themes is one says why I value firearms, the other says "I got my rights", leaving the question of what you will do with your guns open to misinterpretation.

I was married for 29 years and when she left I still didn't understand what was going on in her head. I am not a Mensa, but... So, getting people to understand you in a lot less time with likely a lot less intimacy...methinks this is a challenge.

Wrapping this up, we agree about speaking up. Just think carefully about your words. The communist agit-prop units used certain words, "value-laden terms", to sell their views (still do). In the Vietnam era, it was pretty easy to see where someone was coming from because they had such faith in their coda, it inevitably appeared. Those with empty arguements have little to fall back on, and their approved rhetorical flourishes have to be used.

Sorry if I have been a bore.
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Old July 16, 2010, 05:50 PM   #18
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Oh, I forgot to add...whenever, since about 1967, I have heard someone profess to speak "for the people", I have a nearly uncontrollable urge to ask them for their writ, signed by "the people", endorsing whatever hobby horse they are trying to ride at the moment.

Show me the endorsement, cert, writ, petition...anything...that nominates you to speak for the amorphous but holy mass known as "the people".

It comes out of watching communist regimes murder their citizens by the tens of millions, while touting the rights and deep concern of the leaders for "the people". And listening to pompous college students who barely knew where Vietnam was expound in detail about how oppressed "the people" of South Vietnam were. That 2M of the oppressed died after being "liberated" in 4.75 is something I am still quite impolite about.

My momma raised some stupid children, but they is my brother and sister...I think.
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Old July 16, 2010, 06:29 PM   #19
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The 2nd Amend. exists as a function of our constitutional government. While you may not like it, people have the right to use the appropriate governmental and legislative processes to alter it.

That is not being an enemy of the people.

Much of the country did not like the view that the 2nd was an individual right. They called those of us who did, all kinds of names - we could be seen as enemies of the people as we promote violence.

Last, if you use a term which riles up the choir, you feel good. If you think you will take the gloves off and convince your opponents or the uncommitted of your causes with extreme names, you are wrong.
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Old July 16, 2010, 07:11 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DG45
...If we don't want to one day be standing in this fellows shoes ourselves, we have to WIN the hearts and minds of our countrymen in our internal political battles to protect our 2nd Amendment rights,...
Yes, we do need to win the hearts and minds of others. Some of the ways we can do that are by introducing people to shooting and by being good ambassadors for shooting and guns -- and thus helping to dispel the myths, held by many non-shooters and fostered by our opponents, that those of us who have guns are knuckle dragging Neanderthals.

One of the ways we most assuredly can not win hearts and minds is by calling those who disagree with us names -- like "enemy of the people."
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Old July 16, 2010, 10:48 PM   #21
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I'm simply suggesting we call people who really are enemies of the people what they are. I don't think that would offend anybody except them.

The best labels to hang on people are those that like the term "femi-nazi", are so recognizably right-on-the-money that every time he, she, or it opens their mouth to promote their position, they reinforce the accuracy of the tag.

This would just be be another case of that.
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Old July 17, 2010, 09:02 AM   #22
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When we argue about whether using Nazis in any manner is productive and we lose the thread of Australian gun laws - it's time for a shut down.

Closed.
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