‘There will be blood’: NRA’s chilling message
AMERICA'S National Rifle Association is seemingly so concerned by Australia's firearms laws, which have been credited for preventing any mass shootings since 1996, that it has taken to labelling our gun control advocates as "fanatics" intent on the "destruction of personal freedom" and warned chillingly that "there will be blood" in this country.
At one point it even condemned "gun control evangelist"John Howard for seeking to "lecture American gun owners".
Yet some of the research the NRA has used to try and persuade Americans that Australia's laws are a huge failure have been easily picked apart by critics.
The NRA is the US' most high-profile gun advocacy group and was the first stop on One Nation senator Steve Dickson and staffer James Ashby's visit to America that has now been revealed following an undercover investigation by TV station Al Jazeera.
In secret footage, the pair was seen talking about political donations of up to $20 million and exploring ways to undermine Australia's gun laws.
On Tuesday, they said they were "on the sauce" when they made some of the comments, which were taken out of context.
"There is no way we were out to change Australian gun laws," Mr Ashby told Sky's Andrew Bolt.
During the documentary, Mr Dickson and Mr Ashby were shown meeting senior NRA officials who - with much frustration - told them Australia's gun laws were routinely held up as a shining global example.
"In the US a lot of people go 'well look at Australia' and we have to fight that argument continually," said NRA lobbyist Brandi Graham in the documentary How to Sell a Massacre.
It's such an issue for the NRA that, over a long period of time, it has devoted numerous articles and videos to Australia.
And just days after New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern announced stricter gun laws in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack it has now turned its attention to her.
'THERE WILL BE BLOOD'
One article about Australia on the NRA's America's 1st Freedom website is chillingly headlined: "Australia: There will be blood".
The 2015 piece is crudely illustrated with a bandage soaked with blood in the shape of Australia.
It sets out to rubbish then President Barack Obama's admiration of Australian gun laws in the wake of the 1996 Port Arthur massacre.
It quotes him as saying: "[Australia] said 'well, we're going to completely change our gun laws; and they did. And it hasn't happened since".
But, claimed the NRA, this is a "naive portrayal" and "disingenuous".
"To paint it as the product of a national consensus is an insult to those Australians who were furiously opposed to being disarmed by their government."
The article has a list of grievances, including that the 1996 National Firearms Agreement, that restricted guns in Australia, had an "Orwellian name" and the buyback was really a "confiscation".
The work of "investigative reporter" Ginny Simone is cited. Yet her report could hardly be called independent as it was for the NRA's own news service.
The article reported the Ms Simone had captured the "raw feelings of many gun owners" post Port Arthur including a chap who was unhappy his "40 years of collecting guns" was threatened.
Yet the NRA failed to state if Ms Simone had talked to any of the families of the victims of the 35 people killed.
A further article said a case where a farmer had his guns, temporarily, taken off him by police when he used one to confront an intruder was met with outrage by "more reasonable politicians" such as noted libertarian and former Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm.
But it said politicians including Mr Howard and former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop were "gun control evangelists" who "tried to lecture American gun owners" and turn them into "anti-gun zealots".
"Serious academics" the NRA said had been "unable to determine" if Australian gun laws had any effect on gun crime.
It quoted Griffith University researcher Samara McPhedran as saying "mass shootings have been such a rare event historically" and that "it's incredibly difficult to perform a reliable statistical test on such rare event".
In effect, Port Arthur was an aberration and Australia's subsequent low levels of gun crime was perhaps not connected at all with stricter laws.
NO MASS SHOOTINGS
However, Sydney University researchers say the NRA is dismissing the data.
A 2016 report found firearms deaths were declining at around 3 per cent annually in the 18 years up to 1996 but that accelerated to 5 per cent annually afterwards.
At the time Sydney Uni's Professor Simon Chapman said: "These findings offer an example which, with public support and political courage, might reduce gun deaths in other countries."
Further research by Prof Chapman in 2018, and quoted in the SMH, found that in the 18 years prior to 1996, these "rare", as the NRA would claim, Australian mass shootings happened three out of every four years.
If that number of incidents had continued, he concluded, Australia would have seen 16 mass shooting since. There have been none that have reached a threshold of five or more murders.
"As our research shows, many lives have been saved," said Prof Chapman.
In a 2017 diatribe, the NRA said there was "little evidence" gun restrictions worked and "these [Australian] fanatics should spare Americans the proselytising.
"The ongoing destruction of personal freedom in Australia stands as a stark and constant reminder of just how far gun control extremists are willing to go in their quest to disarm law-abiding citizens," the organisation frothed.
In one NRA video, dramatically foreboding music is overlaid on images of Australian guns being destroyed. At one point the camera zooms in on an ad which warns duck hunters they will no longer be able to shoot fowl with semiautomatic guns.
Just last week the NRA mocked New Zealand's push to ban semiautomatic guns and said it was being given credibility due to "lies" about Australia's ban pushed by the "propaganda" media.
Yet, in an article on Australia's gun laws, the NRA relied on Breitbart, an all-right news source that used to be run by President Donald Trump's one-time right hand man Steve Bannon, as an independent source.
But gun control advocates in Australia are less worried about the NRA's articles and videos - which are primarily designed to rattle US gun owners - than they are about the firearms lobby already here.
Research by Gun Control Australia has found homegrown groups are spending as much per person on political donations as their American counterparts.
While the NRA has vastly bigger coffers than Australian groups, the research found local groups, such as the Shooting Industry Foundation Australia, spent a similar amount on political donations per million people.
In the 2018 cycle, the NRA spent $2,512 per million US residents, while in 2015/16 - the financial year before the previous Australian election - the SIFA spent $2,562 per million.
GCA president Sam Lee said the analysis showed an NRA-style gun lobby, including gun manufacturers and importers, is flourishing.
"It has deep pockets, extensive networks and parliamentary representation."