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Port Arthur tragedy: gun laws an important legacy.



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Senator Gary Humphries Senator for the ACT

Date : Monday, 10 April 2006

Subject : PORT ARTHUR TRAGEDY - GUN LAWS AN IMPORTANT LEGACY

Author : Sen. Gary Humphries

Almost 10 years since the Port Arthur massacre, ACT Liberal Senator Gary Humphries today expressed sorrow to the families, friends and loved ones of those slain in one of Australia's most tragic episodes.

Senator Humphries said it was a day etched in the nation's psyche and that the recent Sydney shootings showed there was still work to do in getting guns out of the hands of the general public.

"This terrible day was the catalyst for much stricter gun control in Australia. We don't know how many lives the gun laws have saved, but if just one life has been saved they have done their job," Senator Humphries said.

"The gun laws should be one of this Government's proudest achievements. It was also an achievement of Australian federalism, with the Federal and State Governments quickly developing a unified approach.

"Agreement was reached on the banning of semiautomatic rifles, shotguns and machine guns, and setting up a national gun registration process.

"As ACT Attorney-General at the time, I was grateful for the support of all members of the ACT Assembly which made passage of the laws relatively smooth. This wasn't the case in other jurisdictions.

"The changes created generated some bitterness and unsavoury behaviour among some people, but I have yet to be presented with a persuasive argument why the average citizen needs to use, for example, a semiautomatic rifle. We do not have a right to bear arms in Australia.

"The overwhelming majority of gun owners have always behaved responsibly but it takes just one exception to cause loss of life and endless grief. The Prime Minister recently said he tightened gun laws because he didn't want us going down the American path - sentiments I wholeheartedly endorse," Senator Humphries said.