A Victorian senator is on a mission to change Australian’s attitudes towards guns and the people who own them, but it’s not what you might expect.
Senator Bridget McKenzie is a 40-year-old single mother who is one of only two women elected to federal or state Parliament for the Victorian Nationals.
A country girl, she grew up with guns and went shooting for rabbits with her best friend.
Recently, Ms McKenzie took a group of journalists on a clay pigeon shooting trip in an effort to change the way people think about guns and shooters.
In an interview with Fairfax media, she says gun owners are too often thought of as “terrorists” and “rednecks” by people in the cities.
“There’s a lot of snobbery and elitism that I find offensive and I really want to challenge it,” she said.
She said that a whole group of Australians felt they were “being put in the same basket as crazy people who had used firearms illegally and were murdering people”.
Ms McKenzie certainly couldn’t be described as a redneck. She has blonde hair and usually wears pearl earrings, she says people are typically very surprised when they see her Beretta Silver Pigeon shotgun.
Ms McKenzie recently went duck shooting, which is banned in three states, and described the experience as “moving”.
“I know it will sound incongruous to people but hunting is about connecting with nature and the outdoors. You have to understand nature to reap the bounty of it,” she says.
“If you have a gun or a bow and arrow, you don’t need urban society to provide for you,” she says. “There’s something quite empowering, quite freeing about that.”
Do you think Bridget McKenzie can change the way Australia and the media perceive gun owners?