Mr Shoebridge’s comments are all the more inappropriate due to his missed opportunity of not raising the issue of mental health, which, more often than not, is directly linked with these kinds of senseless acts.

It has now come to light that the young perpetrator was mentally unstable, had been rejected from the American Army and had a history of crime and drug-misuse. To attempt to tie-in this act of violence in the United States with the sporting club ownership and use of self-loading handguns in Australia is nonsensical.

Australia has always had strict handgun ownership regulations. Indeed, civilians may only be in the possession of handguns (self-loading or not) for club use, if not part of their professional tools of trade, such as security guards and veterinarians.

There are about 120,000 registered legal handguns in Australia, of which less than half are self-loading.

Sporting club handgun shooters must have passed vigorous police checks, safety courses and probationary periods, and it can take up to 12 months before they can even own a small-calibre pistol.

The magnifying glass must always be put on the misuse of illegal and unregistered guns in society, not upon licensed individuals who are in possession of legal guns and act responsibly in their chosen sport. Furthermore, all attempts should be made to fund and assist the mental health sector to protect society from the criminally mentally unstable.

For additional information, read SSAA National’s Handgun ownership facts in Australia and Handgun ownership myth busting publications.

For further comment, contact SSAA National spokesperson Tim Bannister.