Well that’s it for Senator David Leyonhjelm, what a pity. You look at the field and try to pick a rational right-winger, but they always disappoint, they always disappoint.

I had high hopes for Leyonhjelm, too. Didn’t agree with a lot of his stuff, obviously, but was never going to. And the Skeletor-on-a-Harley image was a bit disconcerting.

But he kicked off with a same-sex marriage act, and said some good things about drug laws, and supported moves in Parliament to hold the government to account.

But there it is. His recent remarks on gun laws show that he is more part of the delusional Right than the rational Right, pursuing politics in the interest of rounding out fantasy rather than making policy.

If Leyonhjelm wants to support open gun ownership, fair enough. He should do so on the grounds of fundamental right, and damn the consequences. That would affirm the purity of libertarian politics.

It would also gain no traction in an Australia that stopped being a freewheeling, lethal frontier society some time ago and is now mostly the Sweden of the South Pacific. We’re comfortable with the notion of collective freedoms, gained by the limiting of some individual ones.

So Leyonhjelm has to find a utilitarian rationale that cuts with that grain. So there is the argument that a savvy gun owner carrying a concealed weapon could have brought the Lindt cafe siege to a stop. “This wouldn’t have happened in Texas, Vermont or Florida,” Leyonhjelm remarked, choosing places with very open gun laws.

But of course it could, and it does. As workplace and random civilian massacres began to gather pace in the US during the ’80s and ’90s, so too did the demand for closed-carry and open-carry permits for guns, and a ban on banning places where they could be carried. This had an immediate result — massacres got more frequent, more random, and none were stopped by civilian gun carriers.

Thus Texas, in 1991, gained concealed carry after the 1991 Luby’s massacre, in which 24 people were gunned down in a restaurant. Since then it has had two more random massacres, in 1995 and 1999, with six and eight murders (and many smaller ones, of course). A Mother Jones interactive map shows where the major massacres have been, and this timeline shows the endless roll-call of mass shootings across the United States.

But of courses, massacres may well have been prevented, and they wouldn’t appear on the table, right? Well, no. The gun lobby can only find a half-dozen or so massacres where civilians fired back, and in most of them, the gunmen appears to have already stopped and/or the intervening people were security personnel.

And of course we know that getting guns out of circulation reduces or practically abolishes massacres, because we are the experiment that proved it. Before and after Port Arthur is as clear an example as you need.

So Leyonhjelm’s assertion is contradicted by all the evidence. Why does he continue to advance it? He is either a) lying, b) wilfully misinformed or c) delusional.

I am leaning towards the last of these.

Leyonhjelm’s non-rational side is, after all, a bubbling stew of threatened masculinity. He’s always talking about dicks and growing a pair (now cockusing with Jacqui Lambie), comparing himself to Chopper Read for example. The gun obsession is psych 101, which is why he suggests anyone who wants less of them around has a disorder with a Latin name. It is all in service to a mythical idea of self, which is the case with a lot of flat-tax-comb-over right wing libertarianism.

The truly courageous thing would be to argue the real libertarian case, which is that the price of freedom is excess deaths, not sucking up to the idea of risk minimisation to try and smuggle your argument through.

That’s pathetic. And bound to fail. But they won’t do it. Because it would admit the gap between the public mood and their private fantasies, and if that were to occur, then there is no weaponry strong enough to defend it.

Cockusing! See what I did. God bless us one and all.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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