THE HIDDEN GUN THREAT TO WOMEN

12:45 pm  Aug 29, 1991
Source: Peacenet
(Fido:250/222) igc:rjones
Conf:gen.women
THE HIDDEN GUN THREAT TO WOMEN

Speech delivered by Richard Jones (Australian Democrats, New
South Wales Legislative Council) on 28th August, 1991

The Police Minister Ted Pickering has underestimated in the
most appalling way the reaction of members of the public to
the Strathfield Plaza massacre.  He simply does not seem to
understand that the attitude of people towards guns changed
dramatically overnight.  It would appear that he believes that
if he just sits tight and waits, the public furore over the
Government's lack of action on gun laws will simply die down.
He is showing an incredible lack of sensitivity to public
opinion and I only hope that he realises before it is too late
that it is not only John Laws and Alan Jones and Stan Zamanek
who are demanding gun law reform.  They are reflecting the
reaction from the community which the Minister is steadfastly
ignoring.

Those who are demanding the strongest action are women who are
very vulnerable in our violent society.  54% of murders occur
in the home and women are the most frequent victims.  Four out
of 10 are killed by guns, usually a rifle or a shot gun.

It is extraordinary that one person in 5 considers the use of
physical force by a man against his wife acceptable, a third
of the population think that domestic violence is a private
matter for families and more than a quarter say they would
ignore a case of domestic violence in their own neighbourhood.

It is estimated that there are between 3 and 4 million guns in
Australia, one gun to every four people.

A gun of some description is in more than a quarter of
Australian households.  Many men use the implied threat of a
gun in the home to intimidate their wives or girlfriends.  The
mere presence of a gun is intimidating.  It stimulates
stronger aggressive responses in angry situations.

Tens of thousands of women in New South Wales are under
constant threat of the use of a weapon against them.  We very
rarely hear about these women.  They are scared to express
their fears, sometimes even to members of their own family.
Many women are trapped within violent relationships and are
terrified of leaving home through fear of violence, and even
being shot.  Whilst we have had two major massacres in New
South Wales within the last twelve months, we have also had
numerous other shootings.

What we do not hear about or read about in the media is the
hidden menace of guns in the home and how they are used to
intimidate many thousands of women and children.  Many of
these women are virtual slaves in their own home and cowed
into submissiveness.

It is time for the Police Minister to realise that the problem
of guns in society goes beyond the number of people who are
shot each year.  A massive problem with guns is hidden.  That
is the problem of the torment and fear of so many thousands of
women who live with the constant implied threat to their
lives.

The Minister must heed public opinion now and take action not
just to prevent a repetition of the two massacres and the many
other deaths we have seen in the past year, but also to come
to the aid of the many women whose cries for help are never
heard.



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