It's been 18 years since Port Arthur. But there are families suffering from new, fresh wounds.


Michelle Fernando lost her father, when her mentally-ill sister shot him after carrying a gun out of a gun club.




Yesterday was the 18th anniversary of the Port Arthur massacre.

It’s been 18 years since a lone gunman, 28-year-old Martin Bryant, shot and killed 35 people and injured 20 others.

It’s been 18 years but there are still individuals and families suffering the consequences of gun crimes committed since.

Michelle Fernando is just one of those people suffering. In 2010, her sister – who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and paranoid psychosis – joined the Sydney Pistol Club. She was able to register as a member without undergoing a mental health check and was then trained to use a dangerous weapon.

When she left the club one afternoon in August, she was carrying an automatic handgun and 30 rounds of ammunition in her handbag. She then used that gun to shoot her father.

She fired five shots at Vincent Lalin Fernado – and tore apart that family.

So how was this allowed to happen? Didn’t we ban guns in Australia after Port Arthur?

Back in 1996, the response to Port Arthur tragedy was unprecedented, with the public and politicians rallying to change the gun laws in our country. Every State and Territory committed to the ‘Port Arthur Agreement on Firearms’, which implemented nationwide registration and laws regarding the ownership of specific type of firearms.

Gun Control Australia is calling for Premier Mike Baird topledge to doing no deals with the Shooters Party.

But, over time, new laws and legislation have softened commitment to the Port Author Agreement, particularly in NSW.

A new petition on is calling for the new Premier of NSW, Mike Baird, to commit to strengthening gun control laws in the state so that they are in line with the Port Arthur Agreement and pledge to doing no deals with the Shooters Party.


So what are the changes we’ve seen to gun laws in the last decade? The petition outlines them as:

In the last decade, New South Wales has breached the ‘Port Arthur Agreement’ in a number of ways. These include: ‘try before you buy’ legislation, which allows a person unlicensed and without police checks to shoot a semi-automatic handgun (also known as s.6B); removing the 28-day police check for obtaining a firearm; allowing minors to possess a firearm; allowing license holders to obtain additional firearms without requiring them to show good reasons why; removing the requirement to revoke a licence if someone is on a good behaviour bond; allowing recreational shooting in National Parks.

That’s how Michelle Fernando’s sister was able to walk out of a shooting club with a gun. Because a Shooters Party amendment to the NSW Firearms Act states that people (aged as young as 12) are allowed to go into a gun club and shoot without a licence.

Individuals who register with gun clubs don’t even need to have a police or medical check (or mental health assessment) before they are granted easy access to guns.

Not everyone thinks there’s a problem with the current state of gun laws in NSW. The Shooters and Fishers Party upper house MP Robert Brown told Fairfax: “’These people [members of Gun Control Australia] are disgraceful… They dance on the graves of murder victims.” He thinks that the current campaign exploits the Port Arthur tragedy.

Even putting aside the specific legislation under discussion, some people believe that there are too many guns in NSW – licenced or not.

There are 70,000 registered guns in the state. That’s one for every 10 people.

When it comes down to it, the States and Territories have already made a commitment to protect members of the public from gun crimes. They made a commitment to the Port Arthur Agreement on Firearms.

All they have to do is stick to it.

Still not sure whether strong gun control laws are necessary? This video explains why… 

This gallery shows some of the silly things that are banned in US schools, instead of guns… 

You can sign Gun Control Australia’s petition here

Do you think gun control laws need to be stronger in NSW?