Gun laws are inadequate, John Howard tells son of Parramatta shooting victim Curtis Cheng

Alpha Cheng with his father Curtis, who was shot by a 15-year-old boy outside Parramatta police headquarters in October last year. Photo: SuppliedComment: Tighter gun laws could have prevented my dad’s death
Nanjing Night Net

A Canberra teacher whose father was shot dead outside NSW Police headquarters in Parramatta last year appreciates former Prime Minister John Howard’s stance in tightening Australia’s gun laws, as well as the community support his family has had since his father’s death.

Mr Howard said Australia’s gun laws were “almost certainly” inadequate in an interview for SBS program Insight, after Mr Cheng asked if the laws were capable of protecting Australians.

“Are we as safe as we think we are?” the Caroline Chisholm school teacher asked.

“What do we need to do to make our society safer? Do we need another amnesty to remove guns and weapons from society?”

Mr Howard reasoned that “there is something wrong with the laws” if a 15-year-old could obtain the gun that shot dead his police accountant father, Curtis Cheng, 58, from behind and at close range.

“I’m not going to preach at the state government over this – they have to make a judgement about it. But I’m wholly against any watering down of the existing laws, and I would encourage sensible strengthening of the existing laws,” he said.

He then said while he had not been actively campaigning for another amnesty, he would favour it, and he would repeat his view to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull if asked.

Mr Cheng, a 17-year veteran of NSW Police, was shot by radicalised teenager Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar on October 2 last year and died at the scene.

In light of the SBS program that was to air Tuesday night, Mr Cheng told Fairfax Media he was “pleasantly surprised at how enthusiastically [John Howard] warmed to the idea” of another gun buy-back scheme.

“When events such as what happened to my dad happen, it does become a turning point in terms of discussion as it does become at the forefront of discussion,” he said.

“I hope that what has happened to Dad can lead to a positive change, which is to reduce the number of guns that we have access to in the legal and also the illicit markets so that there is less of a chance that such a shooting will happen.”

He also hoped for “a positive shift” in law enforcement for the radicalisation of young people.

“And one thing that has really touched me is how much support that myself and my family has been given,” he said.

In October, Mr Cheng thanked the community for their outpouring of well wishes and blessings and remembered his father as a kind and gentle man.

“He was humorous, generous of heart and always put the family first,” he said.

“He has set a tremendous example for us as a family.”

Mr Cheng stressed the need for fewer guns, preventive measures such as background checks and access to mental health records, and a review on the limitations on semi-automatic and rapid-fire guns.

“Reactive measures include more law-enforcement surveillance, and efforts to reduce the access of guns on the black market,” he said in a Fairfax Media opinion piece.

In the article, he pointed to Australian Institute of Criminology figures that show there are about 250,000 long arms and 10,000 handguns in circulation illicitly.

“The freedom to be able to walk where you want and not fear for your safety: that is our right as Australians.”

He said he and Port Arthur Massacre survivor Carolyn Loughton were living testaments to the terrible tragedies that occur when guns end up in the wrong hands.

The Port Arthur tragedy sparked a huge overhaul of Australia’s gun laws after Martin Bryant’s shooting spree in Tasmania’s south killed 35 people and injured 23.

Then prime minister John Howard banned semi-automatic rifles and shotguns and 600,000 weapons were destroyed. The laws remain in place today.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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