Liberal Party politicians in NSW seem to have embraced the anti-gun cause with renewed enthusiasm. That’s interesting, considering they made some effort to court the shooters vote prior to the March 2007 election.
Planning Minister Frank Sartor has implied Labor might not be far behind them, offering to change planning rules to prevent gun shops from being established near schools. But Sartor is a stirrer and motor mouth, so who knows what his real views are.
Shooters Party MLC Robert Brown has at last spoken to the media about something controversial, but failed to cover himself with glory. The Daily Telegraph reported he “laughed” when told about parent concerns. Would the old fox John Tingle have handled it better?
The Member for SSAA, Roy Smith, has not been heard.
The issue is, of course, symbolic nonsense. If gun shops are dangerous near schools, armed police must be as well. A gun is a gun and if proximity is the source of the concerns, it makes no difference who has it.
The real issue is not whether the local Council reverses its decision, Sartor calls it in, or even Brown’s handling of the media. It is how the major parties view it in symbolic terms. Will they see more political capital in opposing gun shops, supporting them, or ducking the issue? And how should shooters respond to that?
Brown and Smith have a declared policy of voting with the Government on most issues. Will that change in light of this episode? How does it maximise their ability to change the balance of political capital. Will they run a Shooters Party candidate in 2011 against the Liberal MPs who are sounding off?
This is the sort of symbolic issue that sorts out politicians. It’s watch and wait.