NSW Police have done it again – they are moving to ban another straight-pull bolt action shotgun, in what is going to lead to another legal fight by the NSC.
LESS THAN A MONTH after giving the Berika straight-pull shotgun the green light, NSW Police have advised the importer of the almost identical Predator straight-pull shotgun that they will ban the gun.
The Predator, which is imported by Hunts Shooting Supplies, has been on sale in NSW for some six months.
In January, we reported that NSW Police decided to allow the Berika Black-Ops straight pull firearm to be sold, provided any variants with a folding stock had the stock pinned.
A photo of both are to the right, so you be the judge on whether the different ‘appearances’ justify different regulatory treatments.
What is even more disturbing is that the decision was based not on the physical firearm, but photographs of it.
The importer had previously supplied sample guns to the Australian Border Force as well as the Australian Federal Police and those agencies cleared the shotgun for Australian importation but in this case, NSW Police declined the same opportunity.
Instead the decision was based on ‘second best’ information (photographs), despite being such an important one for the firearms industry.
When a bolt looks like a pump action
The NSW Firearms Act permits NSW to reclassify a firearm “Any firearm that substantially duplicates in appearance (regardless of calibre or manner of operation a firearm [that is a] … self-loading shotgun of a kind that is designed or adapted for military purposes.”
The Predator is a bolt action shotgun – so cannot look like a self-loading shotgun, let alone one “that is designed or adapted for military purposes”.
In fact the only shotgun that we know of in our military services is the Remington 870P which converted them to M4 stocks 6-7 years ago. This is used by the RAN for boarding parties – which you can see the right.
Clearly that’s a pump action, that does not resemble the Predator in any way.
This is the quality of their judgement.
One thing that importers and suppliers value is certainty of being able to do business.
The NSW Police’s seemingly random interpretations removes that certainty, making it difficult for the firearms industry to trade in NSW with any real degree of confidence. Importantly, decisions like this have the effect of unfairly disrupting supply chains, and giving one importer an anti-competitive advantage over another.
We are not alleging favouritism or anything else untoward by our industry in this instance, but do believe that the effect seemingly ad hoc decisions like this creates a real risk that the regulator is distorting the market, whether it realises it or not. This is something we have raised with the ACCC.
The NSC has also been in contact with NSW registry senior management via phone and email, and asked it for a written explanation for the decision. We have also requested an urgent meeting with NSW Police Minister David Elliott as this decision comes after the fiasco with Adler straight-pull, which the registry explained was a “typo error” on a model number.
Again, this speaks to their professionalism.
The NSC has spoken to the importer who wants to take legal action. So do we!
The NSC will support the importer by making its barrister available and providing financial resources to sustain a long, protracted legal fight if necessary.
We have already built a library of legal arguments and precedents from our earlier reclassification fights, and are confident in the knowledge that we have to run this case.
At the end of the day, the NSC wants the law changed. We want our politicians to recognise when their regulators are making decisions that should not be in their domain, and to support the removal of the appearance law loophole from the National Firearms Agreement loophole that is causing so many problems.
Appearance laws serve no useful purpose. They don’t save lives. Coupled with poor judgement, the policy justification for having any restriction by appearance is weak. It’s laughable.
The only people affected by the appearance of a firearm are those who would object to the appearance of any firearm anyway.
This is a fight the NSC needs to take on and win, because the next fight could be over a gun that your neighbour has. Then it’ll be a fight over one you have.
If you’d like to support these fights, then the easiest way is by becoming a member of the NSC – which you can do quite easily by clicking here.