Media release: Gun amnesty can build confidence, says bishop

Heightened fears of terrorist attacks in Australia mean it is time for another gun amnesty, says Bishop Philip Huggins.

PHOTO: Metropolitan Police, UK

November 23 2015Heightened fears of terrorist attacks and vastly increased gun crime in Australia mean it is time for another gun amnesty, a Melbourne Anglican bishop has suggested.

The Howard Government’s gun amnesty in 1996 after the Port Arthur massacre was immensely successful, but the number of guns in the community has been rising steadily, according to Bishop Philip Huggins.

“One way to minimise the risk of a Paris massacre in our places of recreation is to gather the guns and destroy them,” says Bishop Huggins, who chairs the national Anglican Church’s working group on refugees and asylum seekers.

“There is a deep fear in the community about events like Paris last week. Each day there are reports of gun violence, people shot and dying. Gun amnesties and positive moves to re-engage those at risk of religious extremism have worked in other countries.”

Bishop Huggins says the Government should pay to receive the guns, then destroy them publicly, so there is no fear they will be corruptly re-circulated.

“We have to all be convinced again that Paris will never happen here in our beautiful, multicultural Australia.

“That requires confidence-building measures such as active community disarmament. Otherwise fear of the other will take over, impacting too on incoming refugees and migrants.”

Bishop Huggins says building confidence requires the involvement of young people who are alienated and at risk of extremism. Incentives could include free access to education and training and building pathways to a positive social identity.

“Precarious belonging is never healthy,” he says.

“The alternative is a creeping fear, the further erosion of civil liberties – armed guards everywhere, even on a Friday night at a restaurant or concert. The time to act is now.”

For more information, contact Bishop Huggins on 0418 799 515