Gun Control: What Australia got right (and wrong)
UNSW Press, $34.99 pb, 240 pp, 9781742236346
This is an unusual book. It is, so the title indicates, about guns and firearm regulations in Australia, with some comparison to the United States. But, as a prefatory note to readers cautions, ‘this book is less about guns and more about the continuing tension between the authority and power of the state and the responsibilities and entitlements of citizens’. It is also a treatise on state–Commonwealth relations in Australia’s federal system, an intriguing case study of collaboration and conflict between the various islands of power embedded in our Constitution. Tom Frame’s latest book is thus, simultaneously, very much about guns and not really about guns at all. That makes it a stimulating and challenging read.
The publication of Gun Control could not be timelier. The debate over firearm regulation rages in the United States, where mass shootings have become the norm rather than aberrations. In the month between receipt of this book and finalising the present review, America endured several multiple-fatality incidents. The Australian experience is commonly cited in discourse in the United States, to mixed reaction in a polarised landscape. In March 2019, New Zealand was rocked by the worst mass shooting in its history; an Australian awaits trial. The 2014 Lindt Café siege remains fresh in the memory of Sydneysiders.