- Apr 17, 2009
How far is the Senator right that folks should be allowed to have guns for protection.Australia a 'nation of victims', deadly Sydney siege unlikely in Texas, says pro-gun senator Leyonhjelm
Australia is a "nation of victims" with citizens unable to properly protect themselves with weapons, pro-gun crossbench senator David Leyonhjelm has said.
The Liberal Democrat said he wanted a calm, measured discussion about the right to "practical self-defence" in the wake of the deadly Sydney siege.
"What happened in that cafe would have been most unlikely to have occurred in Florida, Texas, or Vermont, or Alaska in America, or perhaps even Switzerland as well," Senator Leyonhjelm told the ABC's AM program.
"Statistically speaking" in those jurisdictions, "one or two of the victims" would have had a concealed gun, he said.
"That nutcase who held them all hostage wouldn't have known they were armed and bad guys don't like to be shot back at," Senator Leyonhjelm said.
He said the Lindt cafe hostages were helpless because they were not allowed to carry a lethal or non-lethal weapon.
We asked you what you thought of Senator Leyonhjelm's comments. This is what you said.
"It would have been illegal for them to have had a knife, a stick, a pepper spray, a personal taser, mace, anything like that for self-defence," he said.
"I regard that [as] an absolute travesty. To turn an entire population into a nation of victims is just unforgiveable in my estimation."
Senator Leyonhjelm has long argued Australians should be allowed greater access to weapons.
He left the Liberal Party because of John Howard's crackdown on guns following the Port Arthur massacre and said the public could not be confident police or tougher laws will stop violent crime or acts of terrorism.
"We've got tougher laws, they were introduced by the Government just in the last few months, they did nothing to prevent this bloke from committing evil acts in the name of Islamism", Senator Leyonhjelm said.
"They didn't prevent him from getting a gun. It's just not acceptable that we are all disarmed victims."
Sydney siege is Tony Abbott's Port Arthur moment, Greens say
On the opposite side of the political spectrum, the Greens have labelled the horrific hostage situation Tony Abbott's Port Arthur moment.
"In the wake of the Port Arthur massacre John Howard did the right thing," Greens acting leader Adam Bandt said.
"He said, 'this is a tragedy and shows what happens when someone who is unstable gets access to a gun'.
"Tony Abbott needs to take a leaf out of John Howard's book."
The Greens want the joint NSW and federal inquiry into the siege to focus largely on the question of how Man Haron Monis was able to obtain a weapon.
"How did someone who had mental health issues, who is charged with being accessory to murder, get a gun?" Mr Bandt said.
"If the inquiry focuses on that it has the potential to make this country safer and we might see some positive reform arise out of this tragedy.
"The idea that we will make Australia safer by becoming more like the United States... and giving more people access to guns just beggars belief."
Mr Abbott was initially told by security officials that Monis had a gun licence, but police said they have no record of it.
A spokesman for Gun Control Australia, Roland Browne, told RN Breakfast that for someone to get a licence, they have to demonstrate that they are a fit and proper person with a need for a firearm, but he said there were ways to get around the laws.
"People can lie when they apply for gun licences and they can make themselves out to be, for example, a hunter, which is an inaccurate expression and allows people to slip under what would otherwise be an effective restriction," he said.
Former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer backed tough gun control laws in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre.
He said it was "seductive nonsense" to suggest American-style firearm policies would be appropriate in Australia.
"Debate will always go on in a good democracy but where it is built on a pack of lies from the NRA (National Rifle Association) it should be dealt with swiftly," he said.
"It is seductive nonsense to say concealed gun laws would somehow work here in Australia."
US president Barack Obama reiterated that Washington stood ready to provide assistance following the siege.
In a phone conversation with Mr Abbott, Mr Obama expressed condolences to the families who lost loved ones.
Mr Obama also praised Australia's rejection of any violence taken in the name of religion.
Australia a 'nation of victims', deadly Sydney siege unlikely in Texas, says pro-gun senator Leyonhjelm - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
If the customers had guns would it have stopped such a situation.
What is the guarantee that there would not be amongst the customer folks who are of the same views as the one holding up the place and thereby adding to the gun power of the one holding up the place?