Australia needs to keep getting rid of the guns
I WOKE yesterday to reports of yet another international shooting incident.
This time Strasbourg was the city where tragedy had visited, with early reports indicating at least two people had been shot dead and another 12 injured.
Not for the first time I breathed sighs of disbelief and relief.
The disbelief usually follows reports of mass shootings in the US.
All too common, those reports never fail to leave me staggered at the inability and lack of appetite of the country's leaders to fix the problem.
The relief usually comes after realising the reports are of lone wolf terror attacks or random acts of violence across Europe.
We simply don't experience anything like that level of violence as frequently in Australia.
Why? Because we did something drastic to try and make the place safer.
After the Port Arthur massacre on April 28, 1996, during which Martin Bryant slaughtered 35 men, women and children with semi-automatic weapons, newly-elected Prime Minister John Howard introduced sweeping changes to gun regulations.
The effect was instant.
More than 700,000 guns were handed in during a national buyback, while the Federal Government worked with states and territories to introduce blanket legislation to ban the importation and sale of automatic and semi-automatic weapons in Australia.
I'm not naive enough to think it solved the nation's gun problems.
We still have shooting deaths in Australia and there are plenty of guns in criminal hands, although authorities are constantly working to reduce the number that are.
But for the most part, our system is miles better than the US, for example.
Those in rural parts, sporting shooters or those who rely on firearms for their livelihoods can still access weapons, provided they follow licensing requirements.
I'm all for those who need them being able to access firearms, but anything that works to restrict guns ending up in the hands of those who don't has to be a positive.
I saw an argument the other day against efforts to disarm Australians.
It surprised me that anyone in this day and age could genuinely oppose any such efforts.
The old argument is that civilians should be able to carry arms, to prevent attacks of terror or otherwise as they unfold.
What a ridiculous idea. When was the last time you heard of a terror attack being ended by a heroic random punter with a gun?
It's such a rarity that the odds of it happening are so far outweighed by the risks of having more concealed or openly-carried weapons in the hands of the public it doesn't make sense to support.
In 2016 it was estimated there were still about 2.75 million guns in circulation in Australia, a fair chunk of those through the black market and intended for criminal use.
Simply put, the more guns off our streets the better.