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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


Blaming the Victim

"It's the criminals, stupid!"

29th December, 2003 -- 

In an interview with the ABC on 28th December 2003, Federal Customs and
Justice Minister Chris Ellison blamed the rise in crimes involving firearms
on the theft of firearms from legal owners.

“The Howard Government is fond of blaming everyone but themselves for the
results of 8 years of unreasoned, knee-jerk policies on firearms”, said
Grant Bayley, Spokesperson for C.L.A.S.S, a non-profit organisation
defending law-abiding sporting shooters.

Instead of specifically targeting people possessing and using illegal
firearms in criminal activity, the Howard Government has so far spent half a
billion tax dollars on compulsory acquisition (‘buy backs’) of licensed
firearms from licensed people.  This approach picks on the people whose
addresses are on file – people that have not committed any crime – and
forces them under penalty of imprisonment to sell their private property so
it can be destroyed.

“These most recent comments by Senator Ellison simply highlight the
absurdity of the Howard Government’s policy – they’ve compulsorily acquired
33,000 handguns from law-abiding sporting shooters, and the effect on crime
in Sydney has been exactly zero”, Mr Bayley continued.  “Blaming increasing
levels of crimes involving firearms on law-abiding sporting shooters and the
security industry is akin to blaming a rape victim for the sexual assault
perpetrated against them”, he said.

Sporting Shooters are being urged by C.L.A.S.S. to direct their votes in the
upcoming Federal Election away from political parties that restrict their
freedom to participate in the shooting sports with ‘buy backs’, onerous
licensing and firearm category restrictions.  C.L.A.S.S. further urges that
sporting shooters engage sitting Parliamentary members in dialogue,
encouraging targeted approaches to illegal firearms that do not penalise
those that abide by the law and participate in the shooting sports without
risk or injury to themselves or the community.

“Voters should be asking John Howard and his Government at the next election
how half a billion dollars could have been better spent on skin cancer
research, heart disease prevention strategies, the environment, or any one
of a thousand things other than ‘buying back’ licensed firearms from
law-abiding sporting shooters”, Mr Bayley concluded.

A quotation for posterity:

"False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for
one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from men
because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedy
for evils except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are
laws of such a nature. They disarm only those who are neither inclined nor
determined to commit crime." - Cesare Beccaria

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Formed in 2003 by a growing, grass-roots movement of sporting shooters,
C.L.A.S.S. aims to right the wrongs of Australian law 'reform' that have
seen our nation's 150  years of civilian firearms ownership destroyed by
opportunistic politicians, half-truths and unnecessary 'buy backs'’, costing
taxpayers well over half a billion dollars since 1996.