Liam Hendriks, a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, made a strong statement in response to the shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, at a Fourth of July parade this week.
Hendriks, who was born in Australia and has played Major League Baseball since 2011, spoke to reporters and addressed the shooting prior to the White Sox playing the Minnesota Twins.
According to Fox News, Hendriks believes that Australia has the answer to gun violence: gun buy-back programs and more gun control. He also said he is “baffled” that in certain states “. . . he can go into a store and purchase a handgun.”
“I had to take a driving test when I was over here. I won’t have to take a test if I want to get a gun. That’s stupid. Whoever thought that was a great idea was an idiot,” Hendriks said.
“When we had a mass shooting, the government came in and said we can’t do this, we’re gonna do a buy-back program and so we’re gonna buy back the guns for a fair price and all this. And all of a sudden, suicide rates dropped drastically, gun-related homicides dropped infinitely and it’s something that has pretty much kept on. You can get access to guns in Australia but there’s a lot more stipulations on it and protection isn’t a good enough reason to get a gun,” Hendriks continued.
Hendriks is referring to the 1996 mass shooting that occurred in the Australian town of Port Arthur, Tasmania, in which 35 people were killed and 23 were wounded.
The shooting prompted Australia to immediately change its firearm regulations. As a result, only licensed gun owners in Australia may “lawfully acquire, possess or transfer a firearm or ammunition” and applicants for a license “are required to establish a genuine reason to possess a firearm, for example gun club membership, hunting, target shooting, firearm collection, pest control, and narrow occupational uses.” By law, “personal protection is not a genuine reason” to own a gun in Australia and the right to possess a firearm is not constitutionally protected.
Despite Hendrik’s claims that gun control was the cure-all for mass shootings in Australia, a fact check by Newsweek questioned that claim.
Newsweek reported that gun ownership in Australia has increased and the number of guns in Australia may be higher than before Port Arthur.
“Gun policy research shows that the total number of firearm imports to Australia since 2008 has been consistently higher than figures recorded in 1996 (although the same statistics show there was a sudden spike of imports in 1997),” said the publication.
Further, “[a] 2021 article published by the University of Sydney also found that, while the proportions of Australians that hold a gun license and Australian households with a firearm have fallen dramatically since 1997, people who already owned guns have bought more,” Newsweek reported.
The publication concluded that although Australia’s gun ownership laws have become far more stringent, and some illegal firearms have been removed from circulation by buy-back programs, the regulatory changes have not resulted in a surrender of firearms by private owners.
Newsweek further concluded that, based upon the definition of “mass shooting” used to collect statistical data the accuracy of the claim that gun laws have eradicated mass shootings in Australia is questionable. In reality, there have been shootings in Australia since the regulatory changes that would have been reported and counted as “mass shootings” in the United States.
Although the First Amendment gives Hendriks the right to express his opinion about gun control, the Second Amendment gives us the right as Americans to own firearms. Hendriks may think that firearm possession is stupid and that the people who came up with that idea (I suppose he means our Founding Fathers) are idiots, but here in the USA, personal protection through firearm possession is our legal right. If that causes Hendriks concern, I suppose he can always choose to play baseball in Australia.