Swimming Pools: Our Children in Danger

In the United States in the period of 2005-2009 there were recorded deaths of 3,533 innocent people in non-boat related unintentional drownings.

Drownings accounted for more than 3,000 deaths between 2005-2009.

There are over 10 million private swimming pools in the United States, that’s roughly one swimming pool for every 35 people! Private swimming pools are often maintained by irresponsible owners, many of whom have small children or entertain guests who are small children, which would explain why a disproportionate number of pool drowning deaths are that of innocent children. Minorities are also at a higher risk of death from drowning in pools, with the CDC recording that the drowning death of a 5-14 year old African American child is three times as likely as that of a white child.

How can such a travesty occur in a modern, developed country like the United States? The answer is the swimming pool culture and lobby.

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Another perspective on guns


Guns, Politics, Logic and Lies

Politics: The 1996 Port Arthur tragedy gave newly elected Prime Minister John Howard the opportunity to exchange a perception of waffling political mediocrity for one of leader with dogged might.

Massaging the wave of national grief, Mr. Howard vowed to make Australians safer with the introduction of new gun control laws. That the Australian Bureau of Statistics had just released a 16-year study on homicide by gun showed a steady decline was ignored—John Howard was an avowed gun hater. That existing laws were obviously sufficient was inconvenient, but one could turn a blind eye to that, and politically motivated, he did.

With his irrational move against all law abiding gun owners in Australia Mr. Howard followed advice from those who knew little of firearms, or, more likely, had personal agendas to remove all firearms.

Ignorance and emotive speech had led to a belief that the words ‘automatic’, ‘fully automatic’, ‘semi-automatic’ connoted evil. Joined with the words ‘weapon’ or ‘assault’ every firearm in Australia was demonised. Even the word ‘gun’ uttered in some circles caused hysteria.

The criminalizing of the largely harmless, for-rabbits-only, .22 calibre semi-automatic rifles—rifles of sentimental value handed down through families for generations was an example of knee-jerk politics.

Rarely, if ever, mentioned in mainstream media in the current debate is the failed firearms buy-back program where more than $500 million spent appears to have had little effect. Also included in the “rarely mentioned” matters is the systemic corruption known for years in the Australian Customs at airports, seaports, and post offices.

Current official statistics are extremely difficult to uncover, other than graphs and reports by anti-gun groups, and this finding by: Wang-Sheng Lee and Sandy Suardi The Australian Firearms Buyback and its Effect on Gun Deaths is never mentioned. This is what the abstract notes:

The 1996-1997 National Firearms Agreement (NFA) in Australia introduced strictgun laws, primarily as a reaction to the mass shooting in PortArthur, Tasmania, in 1996, where 35 people were killed. Despite the fact that several researchers using the same data have examined the impact of the NFA on firearm deaths, a consensus does not appear to have been reached. In this paper, we reanalyse the same data on firearm deaths used in previous research, using tests for unknown structural breaks as a means to identifying impacts of the NFA. The results of these tests suggest that the NFA did not have any large effects on reducing firearm homicide or suicide rates. (JEL C22, K19)

http://johnrlott.tripod.com/Australia_Gun_Buyback_EI.pdf  (Note: slow to load)

ABS: Firearm deaths, Australia, 1980 to 1995

Number of Deaths during the reference period of 15 years, 1980-95, a total of 10,150 deaths were registered as firearm-related. This accounted for half a percent of all deaths reported. However, in terms of premature mortality, firearm deaths are more significant, accounting for about 2.4% of total years of potential life lost before age 76 (see Technical Note). Of total deaths from external causes, which include accidents of all types, and all suicides and homicides, firearm deaths contributed 8.9%. Although the relative magnitude of deaths from the use of firearms as a cause of death is small, such deaths have social significance beyond the actual proportions and numbers. Analysis of ABS mortality data indicates that firearms are involved in approximately one-quarter of all suicides and one-fifth of all homicides.


Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, November 2003.

An examination of firearm related deaths in Australia between 1991 and 2001 found a 47 per cent decrease in numbers, with a fall in the number of suicides accounting for the largest part of that decrease. Nine out of 10 firearm related deaths involved males. Compared to firearm related suicides and accidents where less than 10 per cent involved the death of a female, a higher proportion of homicides involved a female victim (33%). Persons under the age of 15 years were least likely to die as a result of a firearm related injury. Males and females who suffered a fatal firearms injury tended to follow a similar age distribution, with persons aged between 24 and 34 years accounting for the largest number of firearm related deaths. There appears to be a shift in age related risk between 1991 and 2001. In 1991, males aged between 15 and 24 years had the highest risk of firearm related fatal injury (rate of 9.5 per 100 000), whereas in 2001 males aged 65 years and older had the highest risk (rate of 4.9 per 100 000). The majority of firearm related deaths were committed with a hunting rifle, although there has been an increase in the use of handguns.

Of the 128 544 deaths registered in Australia in 2001, 7876 deaths were caused by accidents, poisonings and violence (referred to as 'external causes'). The leading external cause of death in 2001 was accidents (transport, falls, and drowning/submersion) accounting for 61 per cent of all incidents. Firearms as a 'cause of death' only represent a small fraction of all external causes of death in Australia (4.2% or 333 deaths in 2001). While firearms account for a small proportion of externally caused deaths, there is much focus on controlling the use of firearms in criminal activities – particularly on whether or not their use has increased or decreased since the introduction of firearms controls in 1997. Briefly, these controls banned self loading rifles and both self loading and pump action shotguns; saw the establishment of nationwide firearms registration; and introduced stringent limitations to the ownership of firearms, primarily minimum age restrictions and satisfactory fitness and reason for ownership of firearms (Mouzos 1999). The main focus of this report is the identification of shifts in trends and patterns over the 11-year period between 1991 and 2001.


SMH, October 2006: The report by two Australian academics, published in the British Journal of Criminology, said statistics gathered in the decade since Port Arthur (showed gun deaths had been declining well before 1996 and the buyback of more than 600,000 mainly semi-automatic rifles and pump-action shotguns had made no (difference in the rate of decline.


However Posted on June 13, 2011 Gun Control Australia:

With thousands of lives saved by reduced rates of gun homicide and gun suicide, we know how wonderfully successful the gun laws introduced after the six, gun (massacres in 1987 and the two gun massacres of 1996 have been. We refer to the combination of these stricter gun laws as the National Firearms Agreement (NFA).


Guns: Lawful gun owners are generally a responsible group. However, fear of strict law, media fed propaganda from gun control groups and (do-gooder social engineers) demands a constant vigilance, if they are to continue their chosen sport.

Never cited by the shrill, anti-gun advocates is the British story where the government in 1997 removed all legitimately owned handguns from society—over 200,000 handguns at a cost of nearly $500 million. (Sound familiar?) Crime figures, from Britain now show dramatic increases in handgun crime. The latest Government figures show that the total number of firearm offences in England and Wales has increased from 5,209 in 1998/99 to 9,865 last year—a rise of 89 per cent.


Logic and Lies: Anything to do with guns is emotive to all parties. With a cool head, however, we must ask, what are we trying to achieve? What is the ultimate goal of gun control? Is it to save lives and prevent untimely death? Is it to abolish firearms ownership? Or is it about the way in which you die? Few of us choose either method or time of our demise, but it usually comes with the comforting: “It was peaceful.” “It was quick.” “He wouldn’t have known what happened,” as in the case of a head-on collision.

Surely, gun control is about preventing death; in which case, is it not reasonable to ask what is the leading cause of “untimely” death? Should we not focus upon what kills us most, or does that remove polarising passion and biased agenda? What part does glorification of violence in movies play, for example?

Attorney General Nicola Roxon legislated a colour change on cigarette packages but more than 25,000 Australians will die this year from smoking. Last year 1,292 died on our roads. The incapacitated and injured are many thousands more. Accidents in the home, murders via knives, screwdrivers, hammers, and electrocution are only a few of non-firearms deaths. Dieting, sex and prescribed medications also cause “untimely” death.

The Australian Medical Association seeks to rid society of all firearms, but the AMA’s members allegedly cause more than 2,000 deaths per year through “Iatrogenic Injury,” and “co-morbidities.” All of the above kill more Australians than the 0.5% to 1% of the population who are killed by firearms. Consider also that police shootings causing death are included.

You can take any firearms statistics pro and con, add as much spin and lies to suit your agenda and guns are far from being a major factor in what kills us—and that’s a fact.

We can legislate against guns but we can’t legislate against insanity.

Guns vs people

Geoff Elliott “reports” on American gun control.

P Lillingston

Philip Lillingston suggests that the gun control debate sparked by the Newtown School shooting in the US might have been better placed on hold until after families had grieved. GC.Ed.

The current Washington correspondent for The Australian, Geoff Elliott, published a piece in the Weekend Australian for the 22-23 December, in which he gave us his report on the aftermath of the tragic Newtown school shooting. 

Newspapers generally make an effort to differentiate between a journalist’s or correspondent’s report and a columnist’s opinion piece. As he is not listed as any of the twenty-nine identified columnists on the website of The Australian, and as he has specifically been placed in one area of the world where news frequently happens, it might be reasonable to say that the role of Mr Elliott is to report the facts happening there rather than to compose what used to be called “think pieces” pontificating on current trends.

Bearing that in mind his article “Defending the right to bear arms” made for interesting reading. To begin with the heading came with a sub heading stating “The gun lobby will fight attacks on the second amendment.” Fair enough. No problem there: he is giving us an introduction as to an unchallengeable truism which will be some aspect of his article. However, together with that it also carried a super-heading declaring “How many innocent victims have to die?” From that we are apparently to take as a given that the right to bear arms goes hand in hand with innocent people dying. If Philip Adams had written that in one of his columns it would have hardly raised an eyebrow because, well, it was Philip Adams. But for a correspondent to imply as truth a highly topical assertion,  and right at the beginning of his report, does make one wonder if he ever gave thought to that Fox News adage “We report, you decide” repeated so often on a news service that he surely must watch in keeping abreast of local events.

In his article he allocates space for a rather spurious argument that because gun control advocates get threatening hate mail (by some so disconnected from reality they equate gun control with pro Islamic and pro minority sentiments) then in America the Second Amendment triumphs over the First Amendment. However his main subject of reporting is how America’s immediate reaction to such tragedies is to give comfort to the victims, rather than to immediately politicise it. 

Mr Elliott hears something “so incomprehensible to an Australian ear” when the governor of a state who had just suffered a mass shooting tragedy criticised a reporter for so soon bringing up gun control, stating, 

“At this point, what it's about is comforting family members … and helping this community heal. And so to those who want to try to make this into some little crusade, I say take that elsewhere”

Our correspondent doesn’t wish to claim sole ownership for this lack of comprehension and attempts to spread it amongst all Australians. But just why would most Australians find temporarily holding back on the political aspects of a tragedy so hard to understand? 

If the young Norwegian mass killer Anders Breivik should serve his 21 years in prison and then, upon release, proceed to slaughter another 50 adults and children, do we immediately hector the Norwegians as to why they have such an incredibly dumb sentencing system, or do we send sympathies and allow them, at their own pace, to grieve and bury their dead, before eventually getting around to broaching the issue of possibly reviewing their (inane) sentencing practices. 

 Whenever some callous and despicable murder happens in Australia one can be sure there are always calls for the re-introduction of capital punishment. It has even happened recently with the spate of single women being murdered on Melbourne streets. In such cases the (correct) response from people in authority is that one should not make permanent laws in the heat of the moment. Those that would vote for the death penalty in the same week as news of some new horror, might not necessarily feel that way after time has allowed one to cool off. That Virginia governor, who was not even a right wing Republican, but a Democrat, was not permanently forbidding a gun rights debate, he was simply saying “not at this point”. It was the same tack even the President followed. At Barak Obama’s first news conference after the current tragedy, he spoke of how something had to be done with regards to these school shootings but he specifically did not get political by mentioning who or what might be at fault. That came later. 

When it did come it came with a vengeance for one certain cable news host. Prominent British ex-newspaper editor and now host for a CNN news show, Piers Morgan made international news when interviewing Gun Owners of America Executive Director, Larry Pratt on the Newtown tragedy. Not for some insightful and acute questions which might have left his guest without an answer, but because of his seemingly uncontrolled reaction when given answers by his guest he apparently did not wish to comprehend or otherwise found unsatisfactory. 

Mr Morgan did not enhance his professional journalistic prestige by responding on air to his guest with statements such as “What a ridiculous argument. You have absolutely no coherent argument whatsoever. [You are]… an unbelievably stupid man”.

The theme of Mr Elliott’s whole piece is that the right to bear arms is so ingrained into the American psyche that rational argument to abolish its constitutional support, the second amendment, is impossible.  His attitude to guns is such that it is “So utterly foreign it is stuck in the memory, forever so” that someone is not allowed to discuss the politics of gun control within days of the news of a shooting horror.

Irrespective of the actual virtues or vices of gun control, the irony is that, in the public forum, it currently seems to be the prohibitionist side losing reason to emotion when it comes to discussing bearing arms.

Philip Lillingston is a member of the Liberal Democratic Party





The Upside Down World of Moral Outrage

Cory-BernardiSenator Cory Bernardi looks at the blatant hypocrisy of the left, and the "outrage" over swimmers posing for photos with legal guns, vs the celebration of Peter Singer who actively contemnds infanticide: 

The topsy-turvy world of moral relativism and PC judgment came home to roost this week. The disengagement of common sense and the absurdity of minority opinion dominating public debate was on display for all to see.

From an abundance of material, there are two notable examples that illustrate just how far we have come from applying common sense to most situations.

The first involved two Olympic athletes who had the temerity to have a photograph holding guns. No, they weren’t part of the Olympic shooting team. Their great crime was to be members of the Australian swimming team who, during some down time, went to visit a gun store and took a couple of snaps with the legal weaponry. 

When the photos appeared on Facebook, the ‘outrage’ began. They were condemned by sections of the media and the usual suspects who seem to loathe anything that doesn’t involve lentils, left-wing politics and chanting Kumbayah. 

The AOC were swift to respond with the two ‘gun lovers’ to be banished from the Olympic village immediately after their events are completed. I wonder if the officials considered for a moment that maybe the range practice endorsed by Swimming Australia in the name of team bonding might have given these lads a taste for more of the cool feel of blue steel.

Some levelled their criticism at the ‘gangster’ poses of the two rebel athletes. Frankly, I think the poses they struck were consistent with what many other young men faced with the same circumstances would have struck. They were having fun and not hurting anyone. 

Unless you count someone having a different view from you as ‘hurt’.

You see, the relativists will defend to the death freedom of choice, as long as it conforms to their opinion.

You can criticise religion – as long as it’s not Islam.
You can have freedom of the press – as long as it only publishes agreeable material.
You can have freedom of speech – as long as people are not offended by what you have to say. 
You can even defend the right to life, as long as you don’t want it to apply to the unborn.

Actually, that last statement is somewhat wrong. It is no longer only unborn children that the great lefty thinkers think it is okay to kill. Some of them are happy for the recently born to be despatched in the name of humanity.

As worrying as this is, remarkably, the chief proponent of such thought was awarded our nation’s highest honour this week. Philosopher Peter Singer was made a Companion of the Order of Australia.

Mr Singer may well be an intellectual but I find much of what he ‘intellectualises’ about morally repugnant. He supports the infanticide of children who are born with disabilities that the parent doesn’t think they can cope with. 

Click here to keep reading.

Senator Cory Bernardi is the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Leader of the Opposition and a Senator for South Australia. 

UK rioting proves that gun control is not crime control.

PeterWhelan Peter Whelan demonstrates how gun control leads to greater crime as law-abiding citizens are no longer allowed to defend themselves:

“Armed shopkeepers fight back” (headline in Sydney Morning Herald Aug 11, 2011)

The comment from the manager of the Turkish Food Market, Greens Lane, Haringey, during last week’s  London riots, as reported by the Guardian News and Media Service, said it all. “I’m scared that the police and the government will attack us if we defend our businesses. We are being squeezed between the two”. 

However, for the shopkeepers targeted in the recent riots, the most they could protect themselves with was a cricket or baseball bat! Guns are banned.

Resident of UK have suffered under many stages of gun control, dating back to 1917, when the ruling class introduced bans on certain “military style” firearms, fearing a similar revolution to what had taken place in Russia.

More recent UK gun bans covering handguns, meant that many world champion Olympic and Commonwealth Games champions had to give up their sport, or export their guns and travel to Continental Europe to practice and compete.

But that has left most UK citizens powerless to protect themselves. In recent years many UK cities had a crime rate exceeding that of many USA cities!

The right to self-defence against intruders has been the subject of debate in Britain since Norfolk farmer Tony Martin was jailed for manslaughter after he shot and killed a teenage burglar at his remote farm in 1999.

In 2004 a UK homeowner who shot and killed intruders who broke in during the night, carrying pry bars as weapons, was similarly prosecuted.

The rioting in London and other UK cities is a reminder for us all, to consider the importance of having a firearm at hand as a critical element in the fight against crime.

It is unreasonable to expect that a member of the police service should be instantly on hand to protect each and every citizen under attack; in fact it is not their responsibility! The police are busy enough just doing their job of apprehending offenders and presenting sufficient evidence to the Courts, to see that criminals are punished.

Firearms laws in Australia should immediately be amended to include “self defence” as a genuine reason to own a handgun, as they were prior to the Howard Gun Control laws of 1996 and 2001.

Peter Whelan is the Federal President of the Liberal Democratic Party and President of the Coalition of Law Abiding Sporting Shooters

The Necessity of Gun Control

Stephan_knollGun control makes most Australians feel safer in their communities, writes Stephan Knoll.

A major difference between conservatives in Australia and their counterparts in the US is the level of importance placed on the right to bear arms. Whilst US conservatives vehemently support the right to bear arms and politically speaking are significantly influenced by the National Rifle Association, in Australia it was actually a conservative Prime Minister, John Howard who championed and achieved gun reform – risking relations with many on his own side of politics.

Numerous recent articles have discussed gun control and/or the futility of it. Those arguing against gun control rely on statistics such as comparative death rates and types of weapon used. John Howard rebutted these arguments and forged ahead with gun reforms, knowing that reforms would serve a much higher social purpose than just keeping guns off of the streets.

John Howard understood that in the wake of the Port Arthur tragedy, something needed to be done – not only to ease the growing fears of Australians, but to instil faith in a new Government. Whether the gun reforms he put in place actually reduced the risk of gun related deaths is negligible – the fact is his actions made Australians feel safe. This was effective in the same way that the purpose of a safety demonstration at the start of an aeroplane flight is designed to show that the crew are prepared for an emergency and to ease the minds of passengers, regardless of whether or not the demonstrated brace position will actually save lives in the event of a plane crash.

One of the major drives behind gun control measures is to be able to offer Australians a sense of safety and security in helping to alleviate gun related fear. This is not to say that some of these fears are irrational or unfounded, but they nonetheless remain real. A society that feels safe is more likely to invest in the long term, take on risks that enable the economy to grow, view Australia as a place to raise a family and resist calls for a change in government.

The phrase ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’ may certainly be correct, however the tried and true response to this still applies: ‘true, but it is harder to kill someone without a gun’ – and this is why in Australia there is no automatic right to own a firearm. There is however a right for all Australians to feel safe within their own communities. 

Stephan is General Manager of family meat and smallgoods business Barossa Fine Foods. He is also heavily involved in the Young Liberal movement in South Australia.

The Futility of Gun Control

David David Leyonhjelm makes the argument that "gun control" laws don't work, and go against liberal values.

 When former Prime Minister John Howard said, “We will find any means we can to further restrict them because I hate guns. I don’t think people should have guns, unless they are police, or in the military or security industry. … We do not want the American disease imported into Australia”, he probably reflected the thoughts of many Australians.

There were three assumptions in his comment. – that strict gun laws lead to gun control, which in turn leads to reduced violence; that the “American gun culture” is something to be avoided, and that it is OK for the government to have all the guns and for ordinary people to have none.

The first two of these are factually incorrect. The third infers a relationship between individuals and the state that most liberals find uncomfortable.

In 1996 following the Port Arthur massacre, Howard forced the States to sign up to an agreement to introduce highly restrictive gun laws. More changes followed in 2002 after the murder of two people at Monash University.

The laws made it difficult and complex for sporting shooters and hunters to participate in their sports. They also removed all remaining rights to own a gun for self-defence.

Since 1999 there have been a series of academic studies of the impact of the Howard gun laws. All used ABS cause of death figures. Perhaps the most authoritative was by Baker and McPhedran, which showed no effect of the gun laws. Based on the paper, the head of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Dr Don Weatherburn, said:

"I too strongly supported the introduction of tougher gun laws after the Port Arthur massacre.

The fact is, however, that the introduction of those laws did not result in any acceleration of the downward trend in gun homicide. They may have reduced the risk of mass shootings but we cannot be sure because no one has done the rigorous statistical work required to verify this possibility.

It is always unpleasant to acknowledge facts that are inconsistent with your own point of view. But I thought that was what distinguished science from popular prejudice."

This should not have been a surprise. It has been no different anywhere else. There is no country in the world where strict gun control laws have led to a decline in violent crime.

Malaysia has one of the strictest gun control laws in the world including the death penalty for illegal possession of a firearm. Britain banned pistols in 1997 following the Dunblane tragedy. In 1974 Jamaica banned the private ownership of firearms and ammunition. The Republic of Ireland banned virtually all firearms in 1973, requiring their surrender within just three days. In not one of these did the rate of violent crime fall. In most of them it rose.

Perceptions of America’s gun culture are mostly based on movies rather than reality. With the exception of murder, rates of violent crime in the US are considerably lower than in Australia. OECD statistics for 2000 show the US had less than half the rate of general assaults, sexual assaults, burglaries, robberies and car thefts.

Britain also has a higher crime rate than the US for all major crimes except murder and rape. Also, 53 percent of English burglaries occur while occupants are at home, compared with just 13 percent in the US where burglars admit to fearing armed homeowners more than the police.

Gun laws vary enormously between the US States, from virtual prohibition to laissez faire. Federal laws also severely restrict ownership of firearms such as machineguns. Since the early 1990s there has been considerable relaxation, with 40 States now issuing permits to carry firearms for self-defence. Yet there has been no resulting increase in crime. The US national murder rate in 1991 was 9.8 per 100,000 but fell to 5.6 in 2006. Other violent crimes also fell substantially, with the biggest reductions in States that issued the permits.

Those who believe in gun control tend to maintain that belief irrespective of the evidence. If there were another mass shooting in Australia tomorrow, we would inevitably hear a crescendo of calls for even stricter gun laws.

But the reality is, gun control is futile. It does not reduce crime; it leaves citizens defenceless; it costs a fortune in bureaucracy. And it gives all the power to the government.

On gun control, Howard was profoundly wrong. 

Leyonhjelm is the Treasurer and Registered Officer of the
Liberal Democratic Party