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10 Oct 2017

Transcript: AMA President Dr Michael Gannon, Sydney Live with Ben Fordham, 2GB, Monday 9 October 2017

Subjects: Gun control

BEN FORDHAM:  Doctors are calling for sporting shooters to store weapons at gun clubs instead of in their homes. The Australian Medical Association says gun clubs are the safest place to store firearms, so in the interest of public safety they want sporting shooters to store their weapons in these gun clubs rather than taking them home. If adopted, it would be the biggest shakeup of gun laws since the Port Arthur massacre.

Dr Michael Gannon, from the Australian Medical Association. He's the President, and he's on the line. Doctor, good afternoon.

MICHAEL GANNON:  Good afternoon, Ben, how are you?

BEN FORDHAM:  I'm okay. This won't go down well with sporting shooters, you know that.

MICHAEL GANNON:  Yeah, it's already gone down poorly. It's part of a statement we made on firearms earlier in the year, and I suppose the tragic events in Las Vegas reflect an opportunity to reflect on the carnage that firearms cause in our community, sadly many times to innocent victims, sadly all too often to sporting shooters or to their loved ones.

BEN FORDHAM:  Okay, there will be plenty of shooters listening saying, ‘hang on a moment, what's Las Vegas got to do with us having a shoot back here in Australia for sporting reasons, they're completely different situations and scenarios’.

MICHAEL GANNON:  Look, they're partly different Ben. But the reality is - and look, thank God we've got gun laws in this country that probably make it a lot more difficult for someone to assemble that kind of arsenal - the AMA position is not that sporting shooters should not derive enjoyment from their pastime. Some people like getting on boats. Some people like playing cricket. Some people collect whiskey, maybe that's not so healthy. But whatever people want to do, that's their business.

We do not fail to understand the important role of firearms in policing, in the armed forces, and we have no intention of inhibiting the enjoyment of sporting shooters, but if you are using your guns to, from time to time, go and legally shoot feral animals in the country, or if you're going to go to a gun club, that's your business.

But the reality is that if you store your weapons at home, you have a lethal instrument inside your family home that might be used by someone who's not meant to be in your home, or tragically by yourself or another loved one in a way that it's not intended. We just seek to minimise any possible harm that can come from these lethal instruments.

BEN FORDHAM:  Yeah. Sure. Yeah, look, I've got a mate who's a sporting shooter. He stores his at home. There's a locker that's in his house somewhere and the key - well, only he knows where the key is, and it only comes out for those reasons when he needs it for sporting purposes. But have we had many cases - I know that your job isn't just always react to problems, but also to look ahead and see how we can do things safer - have we had problems where people have removed those guns from homes and used them for the wrong reasons?

MICHAEL GANNON:  Well, sadly we have. And look, I've heard the argument, especially in the last few days, from people who own guns saying that why would you store them all at the gun club, because that just makes it easy for criminal elements to know where to go to get them.

But one of the reasons that organisations like the AMA have strong statements on this kind of thing is that our members are the people who see someone who's accidentally shot off the side of their face, or someone who's been lethally harmed in the context of either suicide or just some sort of skylarking. They are lethal instruments. That's what they're designed to be. There's only a certain amount of damage you can cause with a penknife or a machete.

Australia does have strong gun laws. We are very lucky that we have the legacy of John Howard's political courage 21 years ago but, wherever possible, we want to seek even greater protections. We do not wish to take people's fun away from them, but if there's any possibility of reducing the chances of these lethal instruments being found in the hands of a 13-year-old, or found in the hands of someone who invades your home, then let's look at it.

BEN FORDHAM:  Thank you for joining us.

MICHAEL GANNON:  Pleasure Ben.

BEN FORDHAM:  Dr Michael Gannon, Australian Medical Association President. 

10 October 2017

CONTACT:  John Flannery                            02 6270 5477 / 0419 494 761

                     Maria Hawthorne                       02 6270 5478 / 0427 209 753


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Published: 10 Oct 2017