This is NSW Police’s new approach on firearm storage
by those with ‘limited mobility’ and home carers:
MEMO TO NSW POLICE:
Please understand what discrimination is
ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS about shooting is equality.
Men, women, old, young, able-bodied and the disabled can compete on a level playing field – and without questioning ability.
However, the NSW registry seems to disagree with that idea. Instead, it has seen fit to dictate to at least one wheelchair shooter what he is and is not physically able to do.
Based on assumptions.
Telling wheelchair shooters what they can and can’t do
Patrick (not his real name) is a pistol shooter at the Sydney St Mary’s range. He has had his pistol licence since 2016 and enjoys his shooting and is always trying to better his own scores. Just like the rest of us.
In fact he hopes to eventually get into competition shooting on a regular basis. However unlike able-bodied shooters, the registry has decided that because he is in a wheelchair, he can ONLY store his pistol at his range and is not allowed to bring it home.
Pat has a rare type of brittle bone disorder that confines him to a wheelchair. His treating Professor (of Genetic Medicine) has written in a medical report supporting Patrick that he is “pleased that [Patrick] has been able to achieve considerable independence”
The professor also noted that he:
“strongly supported the flexibility which would be awarded by his being able to store the firearm at home”
and noted that Pat:
“took up target shooting because given his disability it gave him considerable confidence to be able to attempt to excel in this particular activity”
Previous internal review
This is not the first time Pat has raised this with the NSW Police.
In 2016, the police determined he is required to store his firearms at the range. The reasons were petty. In one instance, they cited the fact that in 2001, his wheelchair skidded and he crashed into a car. They used that event as a basis for supporting this following statement:
Pat had only just taken up shooting so ran with it at the time. However now he wants to store his gun in the same way that other shooters do.
To be clear, Pat has broken no laws. He has never charged with, or even questioned about, his ability to use or store a firearm safely.
The way the Registry has jumped to conclusions about Pat makes us angry. He has not committed any offences and there is nothing that suggests he is not able to comply with the law. His only issue is that he is in a wheelchair, which raises real questions about how NSW Police go about making their assessments.
There are no two ways about it: NSW Police needs to find a better way to treat disabled shooters.
They have not bothered to take the advice from mobility experts, or get advice of their own. Instead they have relied on assumptions, which is is an extremely risky thing to do.
NSW Police needs to develop a policy to avoid this – with the groups affected by their decisions like Disability Sports Australia and ourselves.
In fact, we gave NSW Police Minister, David Elliott, a heads up on Pat’s story, urging him to initiate a review into this and the broader policy environment of the NSW registry in the interests of “fair & good outcomes”. We have not heard back from his office.
NSC files at NCAT
When Patrick first contacted the NSC, we encouraged him to start the process that would enable us to have this matter fought in NCAT by lodging a request for internal review. This would bring the issue out into the open where we can get answers to the questions that we know many of you have.
The 21 days for the internal review passed with no response from FAR which resulted in us filing at NCAT in early July. Our barrister has been briefed, and we’re ready to go. Interested parties who may wish to be part of this matter are welcome to let us know by clicking here.
We’ll obviously let you know how we go.
… and yes, we are looking at the application of anti-discrimination laws…