“When there’s a driving accident, you don’t ban cars, you try to prevent drunk people from driving.”
This is the view that Fox & Friends television host Tucker Carlson shared with his American audience on Monday night. Carlson argued that the discussion of gun restrictions in the wake of the Oregon college shooting last week — where nine people died — were an “infantile focus on the tool of the violence.”
“The idea that taking guns away from the law-abiding will make us safer is insane and childish,” Carlson said.
When his co-host Clayton Morris countered with the view that Australia has effectively controlled guns and gun violence by limiting access, Carlson was quick to interrupt.
“They also have no freedom,” Carlson said.
“You can go to prison for expressing unpopular views in Australia and people do… No one ever says that.”
It is true that here in Australia we don’t have ready access to guns, but it’s a freedom worth waiving. It comes with a compelling upside.
In 2012, a total of 226 Australians were killed with guns. In America in the same year, 33,536 were killed with guns.
Australia is estimated to be home to three million firearms owned legally and illegally. America is home to between 270 million and 310 million firearms. America’s population is roughly 13 times Australia’s. They have almost 300 times as many guns and 148 times as many gun-related deaths.
At the end of the segment in which Carlson criticised Australia’s lack of freedom, he referred to an article he’d read in which the author had proposed banning guns.
“She asked rhetorically, ‘what about the second amendment? It was written by white men 200 years ago. Who cares?’ That’s where the left is right now. It’s scary,” Carlson said.
Here in Australia, guns laws weren’t overhauled by the left. It was the decisive action of John Howard, a conservative Prime Minister, that resulted in a rapid and sustained reduction in gun violence. And as strange as it might seem to many gun-loving American citizens, strict guns laws are far from ‘scary’.
The truth is we’re pretty free because of it.
We are free to send our kids to school everyday safe in the knowledge that a mass shooting is highly highly unlikely. We are free to drive, knowing it’s very very unlikely that our fellow drivers will be armed. We are free to head to the shopping centre or go to a football game or visit a uni, without giving gun violence a second thought. And that’s pretty liberating.
Of course, Australia is not free from gun crime; the shooting of police accountant Curtis Cheng in Parramatta on Friday is a tragic reminder. But gun deaths are rare and they will remain rare if we remain committed to gun control.
This is anathema for Americans and obviously the fact we don’t have a bill of rights that enshrines the right to bear arms, like they do, makes this easier for us to accept. But the truth is some freedoms are worth trading in for others.
Australia is, on the whole, tightly regulated. Earlier this year Canadian journalist and publisher Tyler Brûle delivered a pretty scathing assessment of Australia’s ‘Nanny state’. He highlighted fastidious rules around lockouts, airport curfews and council regulations for alfresco dining as proof.
“This country is on the verge of becoming the world’s dumbest nation. There will be a collapse of common sense here if health and safety wins out on every single discussion,” he said while speaking at the Vivid Ideas festival. “People think it’s a little bit nuts here.”
It’s a very valid point. Do we want to live in a total nanny state? Nope. But are there exceptions? Absolutely.
All in favour of a total-nanny-state in relation to guns, say ‘I’.