Letters to the Editor

from page 12 of The West Australian, May 1, 1996

  As well as urgently making the best national gun laws we can possibly devise, shouldn't we also consider another reform?
  The average citizen would seldom, if ever, actually see a gun being aimed at a person. However, on the screen and in comics, the average person would see about 20 a week, mostly fictional.
  Doesn't this make an abnormal level of violence appear normal? Even if it doesn't induce copying, it seems to bring acceptance. As a nation, we have simply accepted, with little public outcry, a huge number of deaths by guns in a year.
  To restore a more normal level of revulsion against violence by guns, which is so much more likely to cause death other than other forms of violent behaviour, can we not expect restraint in the media presentation of gun use and in the sale of guns as toys?
  This restraint will only come by withdrawal of popular support. The all-powerful "ratings" are produced by us, the consumers. We must use the off button on programs depicting gun violence if we sincerely want change.
  Thirty four deaths by on killer have probably stirred us all to want action, not just punishment of the killer. Radical, effective action by government and individuals is the most fitting memorial to the Port Arthur victims.
    - Enid Conochie, Denmark


  If the equipment used in my sport was responsible for killing more than 30 innocent people the committee would be the first group to recommend changes and modifications to ensure it never happened again. Any suggestions from the relevant government authorities would be welcomed.
  In contrast, the gun associations move into self-denial when disaster strikes. They reject tighter controls and accuse concerned people of over-reacting while they do nothing.
  Based on my training, I would not be so irresponsible as to have a gun at home. Those less informed will disagree.
  I have been in the regular army for six years. I did weeks of training before firing a weapon, followed by years of instruction. Before even becoming a soldier I had to pass psychological and physical tests. A civilian, on the other hand, needs only a couple of references and money to purchase a gun.
  Perhaps it's not a case of introducing psychological testing for those wanting to own a gun, more a case of introducing psychological counselling so they don't need to.
    - James Barker, Heathridge


  The horrendous massacre in Tasmania once again highlights the urgent need for stricter gun controls.
  For too long governments have been reluctant to take a strong stand on the issue for fear of losing votes. The gun lobby and others have successfully prevented the issue being resolved.
  WA now has the chance of a lifetime to do someting about it on a bi-partisan basis, which would nullify the electoral fears of both parties.
  Jim McGinty, to his credit, has come out with the offer to co-operate with the Court Government on this issue, sadly without response from the Premier.
  With an election looming and an overwhelming demand for more security and safety, new gun laws are there for the taking. Over to you, Mr Court.
    - Ash Forward, Shelley


  What kind of sick and bloodthirsty society are we living in when 24 hours after the gruesome Tasmanian massacre we had a TV documentary plastering the horror across the nation?
  Yes, we do need to know of this unbelievable tragedy but the public does not need to see the grieving husband finding out his wife and two children have been killed.
  We don't need to know that people were still sitting at the dinner table when they were slain and we don't beed to re-enact the scene as the killer went through the town shooting dead all these people.
  It is a devastating tragedy in itself without the media prying into private, gruesome matters in order to gain ratings. Knowing these details is not goin to stop this happening again.
    - Allison Puzey, Mandurah

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