Pro-guns Senator David Leyonhjelm has used the siege in Martin Place on Monday as an opportunity to label Australia as a “nation of victims”.
The Liberal Democrat Senator told ABC Radio that the hostages were unable to defend themselves because they are not allowed to carry guns.
“What happened in that cafe would be most unlikely to have occurred in Florida, Texas, or Vermont, or Alaska in America, or perhaps even Switzerland as well,” Senator Leyonhjelm said, because in those places, at least “one or two” hostages would have been carrying a concealed weapon.
“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,” he said.
Senator Leyonhjelm didn’t limit his argument to guns — he also would have been happy if those inside the cafe had been able to carry a “knife, a stick, a pepper spray, a personal taser, mace, anything like that for self-defence”.
Senator Leyonhjelm said Australia’s gun control laws are an “absolute travesty”, and added that “to turn an entire population into a nation of victims is just unforgivable in my estimation”.
He pointed to the fact that gunman Man Haron Monis was able to obtain a gun as proof that Australia’s gun control laws are broken.
“They didn’t prevent him from getting a gun,” the Senator said. “It’s just not acceptable that we are all disarmed victims.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who also appeared on ABC Radio, disagreed with Senator Leyonhjelm’s claims.
“I don’t see how providing more guns into the population would make us safer,” Shorten said, adding that the proportion of gun deaths in Australia is “far less” than in the US.
Shorten did add that Australia has “got to review” its gun laws. “One question here is are the laws adequate, the next question is are the laws enforced,” he said.
Acting Greens leader Adam Bandt, also appearing on the ABC, rejected Senator Leyonhjelm’s push to bring Australia’s gun laws in line with the US, and suggested that the Sydney siege has the potential to be Tony Abbott’s “Port Arthur” moment.
“In the wake of the Port Arthur massacre John Howard did the right thing. 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.”
Do you think Australia’s gun laws need to be changed? Vote in our poll or have your say in the comments below.
UPDATE: This poll has closed. 26.65 per cent of you said the laws are fine the way they are, 22.39 per cent said we should be able to carry guns to protect ourselves, and an overwhelming 50.96 per cent said it should be even tougher to obtain a gun than it already is. It doesn’t look like Senator Leyonhjelm has the backing of the people here…