OVER 1,100 SHOOTERS have now responded to our call to let Victoria’s police minister know that extending powers to ban people from holding firearm licenses for 10 years without safeguards, was not acceptable.
That’s a great result. If you missed it, you can check out our earlier story by clicking here.
The good news is that we hear that the legislation has been delayed pending discussions which could result in amendments being made to the legislation on this, and other matters in the Firearms Amendment Bill.
The NSC has been working tirelessly on making sure our concerns with the proposed legislation in the Bill is heard and understood by the Opposition and minor parties.
Importantly, we want to see safeguards put in to make sure the laws can’t be used against licensed shooters who have done nothing wrong.
We have also been briefing the Media and shooters to make sure the full impact of this legislation is clearly understood.
Jeff Bourman's opposition
Victorian SFFP MP Jeff Bourman has certainly copped more than his fair share of criticism over the past few years – and not necessarily from the NSC.
That’s because he has been seen as being disengaged from the needs of the shooting community. In fact, we wrote to him last November to offer to work with him on positive changes to our gun laws, but he declined the offer (click here to see that story).
Jeff has now said he’ll oppose the legislation in its current form.
While we welcome Jeff’s public stance, it took him a week to reveal what it was.
What bothers us though, is that Jeff does not seem to be across the other discussions that are taking place on the bill, which again comes back to the question of engagement.
SSAA’s update to its Members
The SSAA has released advice to some of its members on what it says the firearms legislation does. Here are screenshots of that advice.
We welcome the update, but it makes no mention of the proposed changes to Firearm Prohibition Orders, or what it could mean for Victorian shooters
Instead, the SSAA took the opportunity to accuse the NSC of making claims that are ‘inappropriate’.
We don’t wish to dwell on the negatives but do need to respond. When the gun law bans were first proposed in 2017, the SSAA declined the opportunity to meet with the Opposition and other firearms industry representatives (including those who went onto form the NSC) to try and have safeguards against misuse of the powers put in place.
We think that’s ‘inappropriate’.
However, the NSC’s efforts to have the legislation are well advanced and we’re hopeful of a positive outcome.
Other matters in the bill
One of the other changes is the proposal to require shooters to have safes that have steel walls of at least 1.6mm thickness. Currently the requirement is that firearms are stored in receptacles constructed of hard wood or steel that is ‘not easily penetrable’ (and bolted to premises if weighing less than 150 kg empty).
We support the safekeeping of firearms. However what is missing is any analysis of how many shooters will need to upgrade their safes – and what problem they are actually trying to solve.
Gun thefts aren’t just about safes. Some have involved the use of welding torches and front-end loaders – and there are the persistent allegations of leaks from the registry.
The NSC’S view is that the shooting community MUST be consulted on changes to firearm laws BEFORE they are proposed.
At the very least, the government needs to back its case with data. It also needs to help shooters obtain secure storage rather than force this though changes to legislation. For example, it could offer rebates for better safes.
Changes to legislation need to be a matter of last resort, not first resort
Our message to all governments is that you should not consider any changes to legislation without prior engagement with the shooting community.
To do otherwise only serves to breed anger and distrust.
Changes to legislation needs to be a matter of last resort, not first resort.