The Australian public supports stronger gun control and stricter restrictions and laws on firearms. Despite this, there is a real danger of our firearm laws being watered down. Successive inquiries have found that no state or territory has ever fully complied with the National Firearms Agreement.
The public will on firearms is being circumvented because firearms interest groups have made a concerted effort to undermine these laws and loosen state-level gun controls. These groups include firearms suppliers and their peak bodies, members’ associations like shooting and hunting clubs, and gun advocates who operate more informally. Either operating independently or together, these organisations have made significant political donations, run campaigns to influence voters and encouraged the election of pro-gun crossbenchers.
The Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia (SIFA), the peak body for Australia’s five largest firearms suppliers, spends roughly the same amount of money, again as a share of population, on political campaigning as the National Rifle Association (the NRA) does in the United States.
The Australian gun lobby runs political campaigns and lobbies politicians and journalists, but it attracts little attention in Australia because it keeps its operations low key. Gun lobby political advertising in recent years has mostly avoided mentioning firearms or gun control at all.
Australians are probably more familiar with the NRA than Australia’s equivalents, even though relative to population Australia’s gun lobby is of a similar size and funding to the NRA. This report provides an account of the political strategies of the gun lobby.