Australia’s gun laws are being re-written as a new model of gun control, which includes a mandatory lock on bags and a “no-fly” list.
But is it a good idea?
Read moreThe gun laws that Australia passed in 1994 have since been re-drawn by successive governments to include a new set of restrictions that have been labelled “safe harbour” measures and which have not been widely accepted by Australian gun owners.
The laws were introduced in the wake of the Columbine massacre in Colorado and the Aurora, Colorado, shootings in 2012.
They were a response to mass shootings by mentally ill individuals and the mass killing at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, in December 2014.
They are designed to prevent the mass shooting of people with a gun, by law enforcement officers, at a sporting event or at a shopping centre, or by a person with a mental illness.
The first of the new laws was introduced in June 1993.
It was designed to stop the mass shootings that had occurred in the previous three months.
The restrictions include a mandatory national lock on all firearm and ammunition carry bags, and a list of people who are not allowed to carry a firearm or ammunition in public.
The law was changed to prevent an “overwhelmingly small number of people carrying a firearm” from taking it to the airport, as well as for people with “severe mental illness”.
The list of the “severe” conditions to be covered by the lock on carry is not published in the Australian Government’s National Firearms Register, meaning it is not widely known or understood.
But it is known that there are significant numbers of people living with mental illness who cannot be counted on to comply with the strict rules.
In 2013, for example, there were nearly 50,000 Australians on the “high risk” list, meaning that they were considered at a higher risk of becoming a victim of violence, sexual assault or serious mental illness, according to the Australian Institute of Criminology.
The new laws are also designed to be effective.
In the past five years, there has been a dramatic decline in the number of Australians who have been convicted for violent crimes and offences against police officers.
The rate of recidivism for people who have committed a violent crime or offences against a police officer has declined by 50% and for offences against other people, by almost 40%.
The law has also led to significant reductions in firearm deaths and injuries, which were at a record high in 2013.
There has been widespread criticism of the laws, with a leading criminologist, Professor Mark Rothwell, describing the restrictions as “one of the worst laws ever passed”.
“There is absolutely no evidence that these laws are preventing crime, so we would be very surprised if they do,” he said.
But the “safe harbors” list is not popular.
“The majority of Australians are opposed to these laws and believe they are a bad thing,” he told Al Jazeera.
“The majority do not want to see them enforced.”
Professor Rothwell said he did not think the new restrictions were effective and that many Australians would argue that “they are a deterrent”.
“The vast majority of gun owners and those with a range of beliefs are opposed [to the new rules],” he said, adding that “if you have a gun and you know someone who has a gun you can trust them to not shoot you”.
“If they do not, you should be able to lock the bag and leave the bag alone.”
In an online survey by the Australian Medical Association, 85% of Australians believed that “safe-harbour” measures should be implemented.
Professor Rothwood said that if the restrictions were introduced, it would have “a significant negative impact” on the firearm crime rate, and he was concerned that the changes would have an adverse impact on mental health services.
“If people are unable to legally acquire a firearm, the police will have to come to their homes and check if they have any guns or if they are carrying them,” he explained.
“It would be incredibly frustrating if they could not legally obtain a firearm.”
But if there are no other alternatives, then they will need to use the ‘safe-haven’ provision, where people who cannot legally acquire guns would not be able use them to commit a crime.
“In 2015, the number one issue on the minds of Australians with a firearm was the “dangerousness” of gun ownership.
In a survey conducted by the GunPolicy.org website, 72% of respondents believed the risk of violence and suicide from a firearm increased when guns were banned.
And of those who felt the risks from guns increased, 74% said they did not believe the government had done enough to reduce the threat of violence or suicide.
However, there was no consensus among Australians when asked if they thought it was “safe” to own a firearm: 73% said “yes” and 17% said it was not safe to own guns.
There is also concern that the laws are not working, with Professor Roth