As many of you know, over the past year the Queensland government has refused to have any engagement whatsoever with the firearms community, despite significant ongoing efforts by our representatives to build a relationship and engage in open communication.
In the past 48 hours a Shooters Union researcher reviewing parliamentary records has found a clear admission of what we believed (but could not prove until now) was happening.
Documents tabled in parliament by the then-Police Minister in October last year, reveal that Queensland Police have in fact been undertaking a “review” of the Weapons Act and Regulations, with an amendment Act/Regs already well underway by the time that document was tabled.
You can get the full details here – see points 16 to 19:
It now seems most likely that the real reason for the government refusing to engage with us has been so that they could undertake a secret review, without any input or advice from the people who are most affected by those laws and who, as we have seen over the past couple of days, are clearly much more familiar with those laws than the government is.
This is deeply alarming.
If you think this review will be minor and not affect you think again, the last time in 2014 that Queensland Police made even minor recommendations (and this time it is NOT minor) they would have:
Allowed an authorised Police officer (no reference to the courts needed) to declare you “not a fit and proper person” simply based on who you know. Example: if a friend or colleague suffered from depression, you could suddenly find yourself declared “not fit and proper” and have your firearms seized. Just like that, no magistrate, no court, just 1 police officer’s say so. (QPS Proposal # 8)
Allowed an authorised police officer to have the police commissioner to reclassify virtually any type of firearm, then contact you and force you to surrender that type of firearm without compensation! (QPS Proposal # 26)
This time around the “review” has been deliberately kept very secret and will be far more wide reaching and will drastically affect almost ALL firearm owners, including primary producers and those recreational shooters who assist rural producers by destroying feral animals.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
1/ Contact your local MP and inform them of the situation, request that they seek assurance from the the Premier guaranteeing the following within 7 days:
That a firearms stakeholder consultative committee will be formed in QLD immediately (inc groups such as Agforce, SSAA, SUQ and others).
That all recommendations by Qld Police relating to any review of the regulations will be shared with that committee for discussion and input before being presented at a federal level or to Qld parliament committees.
That the Qld Police minister and police representatives do not agree or sign up to ANY new changes to NFA (national Firearms Agreement) before consulting with and taking input from consultative committee.
Contact the Qld Premier directly with your concerns (since it appears the Police Minister is unlikely to respond favourably)
Forward this email to every firearm owner you know and encourage them to do the same.
Use the postcard we developed (link to PDF) – we are also happy to post members a number of cards for club or shop use + every gun shop in Qld has these postcards as well, encourage them to get them out on the counter.
This is truly one of the most anti-democratic moves we have yet seen ever taken against voters in Qld and we truly need you to act NOW and get onto your local MP (and write to the Premier as well) today.
SUQ will be sending out more information over the coming days on what is happening as fast as we can get it to you.
Remember your local member is actually not even aware this is happening, so they will likely be surprised as well.
YOU need to inform them that this is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!
Shooters Union has developed a new way to let your elected representatives know exactly how your feel about the current climate regarding firearms legislation. Download the pledge card by clicking the link below, print it, fill it out, create a postcard from it and send it to your local members at both state and federal levels. It is sure to send them a clear message that you will not accept any changes to firearms legislation.
We understand that state and territory Police Ministers are being canvassed right now for their support to reclassify certain firearms from Category A to Cat B and Cat D. If your firearm is reclassified to Cat D you will be forced to surrender it and there will be no compensation.
We believe this final request for support from the Ministers is as a result of the volume of mail etc various MPs’ offices have been receiving about this assault on your rights as law abiding firearms owners and users. They are getting nervous – we are having an effect.
We have until this Friday to make our views heard by our state Members of Parliament and the Premier of Queensland. Please – contact your local state Member of Parliament and voice your concern and your disapproval. Do it by email or better still do it by phone. Tell them you do not support any reclassification of firearms, and you will vote against any government / MP who does support reclassification.
However you do it, please do it now. Even if you’ve done it already, do it again. And copy the Premier.
You can see a list with contact details of all Queensland State MP’s here:
We have just been advised that Federal Justice Minister, Michael Keenan, has advised the National Firearms Weapons and Policy Working Group (NFWPWG) to recommend to state and territory Police Ministers that all lever action shotguns with a magazine capacity greater than 5 rounds, be re-classified to Cat D.
There has been much talk about the Adler shotgun being “new technology” and as such very dangerous, requiring a classification which severely restricts its availability to Australian licenced shooters, be they sporting or occupational. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Have a look at this video to see exactly how “new” lever action technology is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VfiqJWqF6M
There will be NO COMPENSATION paid to individuals who already lawfully own lever action shotguns with magazine capacities of greater than 5 rounds if the re-classification goes ahead.
You can go here to see a statement released by Nioa on behalf of licenced firearms dealers.
Whilst it would be fair to say that there will be relatively few licenced shooters in Australia who will be affected by this change to shotguns only, the significant danger in this move is that this process of re-classification, now that it has been done once, will become the model process for re-classifying more firearms in the future, again with no compensation.
This is clearly the thin end of the wedge!
There have already been reports circulating of consideration to restricting all magazines, pistol or rifle, to a maximum of 5 rounds, and also consideration of re-classifying all pump action firearms, for example the very popular Remington 7600 and 7615, to Cat D as well.
If this happens, these firearms will become illegal to possess under a shooter’s existing Cat B licence, and will either be seized by Police, or be forcibly surrendered to a licenced dealer, with no compensation. However they will be next to worthless in the marketplace because there will be an instant flood of these firearms onto the second hand market, with no-one able to obtain a Cat D licence to buy them.
So what can we do?
Queensland does not have to automatically accept the NFWPWG’s recommendation. So we must all write to our local state member of parliament, and voice our opposition to any such re-classifications. But we have to act fast. The state and territory Police Ministers are meeting on 5th November to consider the NFWPWG’s recommendations – that’s just thirteen days away so we have 13 days to get to our state Members of Parliament in sufficient numbers to convince them that accepting these recommendations will be politically very painful at the ballot box for them.
You can see a list with contact details of all Queensland State MP’s here:
After months of unanswered letters etc from the QLD firearms community, QLD Police Minister Jo-Ann Miller met today with Robbie Katter MP (KAP Member for Mt Isa) and Shane Knuth MP (KAP Member for Dalrymple), who were kind enough to invite representatives from the firearms community along to that meeting. I especially acknowledge Mr Katter for the work he put into arranging the meeting.
As some of you may be aware, since Labor came to power, the Ministerial Firearms Advisory Panel has not met or received any advice (until recently) about how the new Minister wanted to engage.
As you also know, the National Firearms Agreement is being reviewed, and Minister Miller will on November 5 be meeting other Police Ministers to decide on which recommendations to agree to.
However, despite the fact that Minister Miller will be making sweeping decisions that will affect lawful firearms owners, she has not made a single effort to engage with those people to find out what the implications of those secretive bureaucratic proposals will be. She has even gone out into the media and said via a statement from her office that she sees no reason to reconvene the Panel, because the NFA review is almost over, anyway.
Not a good look.
However, today gave us an opportunity to hear from her, and to see if perhaps she’d just been misrepresented. It can happen, and it’s only fair to give people the benefit of the doubt.
Short answer – no.
I have never, in all the years I have been working with different state, territory, and federal Ministers, been so appalled. In my honest opinion, Minister Miller comes across as the most hostile and openly biased Minister I have ever met.
I found her to be defensive, condescending, and someone who refused to give a straight answer to even the most simple questions. She repeatedly had to take instruction from Queensland Police Service (their presence was a complete surprise to us, however the Minister also stated that she thinks the advice QPS give her fully incorporates the views of firearms owners), and hid behind weasel words, evasion, and aggression.
The only straight answer she gave was when, in response to a question about why she did not wish to reconvene an advisory panel, she said – AND I QUOTE – “I’m not doing that, because that was an LNP idea”.
So. There you have it. She is going to go and make decisions about your future, without talking to the firearms community, because undertaking proper and open consultation with us through a formal mechanism wasn’t her idea.
She also said that she cannot commit to consulting with us before signing up to anything, because she “has not yet seen the proposals being put forward”. We pointed out that she does not need to have seen the proposals to be able to agree to talk them over with us…and her response was that they might be about terrorism, which is confidential (we pointed out that the recommendations from the Martin Place review concerning legal firearms ownership were about simplifying the system, but she rejected that as a valid consideration).
We highlighted that talking to us may not have any bearing on her final decision (she is the Minister and the decisions are ultimately hers), but is an important part of her decision making process. She reverted back to her script that she can’t make any commitment to talk to us, because she hasn’t yet seen anything.
She then went on to say that she would be the one to decide on what items she ‘might’ seek our views on – we questioned how she could make a decision about what would affect us, when she had not had any prior engagement with us to understand what those key issues are an identify them. She became very antagonistic and the meeting ended shortly after.
Never, ever have I met a Minister who was so totally unwilling to consult with people who will be affected by decisions she makes, or who so blatantly rejects the concept that receiving advice from sources other than her own department might in fact assist her to make more fully informed decisions.
QLDers, we’re in for a ride.
If you want to make your voice heard on the issue of firearm reforms, consultative government and the legal rights of law abiding firearm owners, please click here to use our Letters to Politicians system to send your grievance to your local member.
If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise.
For this teddy bear is not having a picnic but, rather, concealing two illegal handguns, a 32-round magazine and some ammunition.
Police raided a unit in Turella, in Sydney’s south, on Thursday and discovered two Glock pistols hidden inside a large teddy bear.
The alleged owner, 23 year-old Imad Warwar, was charged with eight firearm offences including two counts of unauthorised possession of a pistol and two counts of not keeping firearms safe.
Detectives from the Firearms Squad raided Mr Warwar’s unit at 7am, also seizing cash and paperwork.
Footage shows an officer sizing up the large, fluffy brown bear in the corner, conspicuously seated beside a television in the sparse room.
The firearms were stuffed inside the bear through a small hole in its backside.
Garry Breitkreutz. Garry and his lovely wife Olivia made a major effort in the middle of the early parts of a Canadian Federal Election, in which the Prime Minister of Canada has asked him to help the party to get re-elected, which I understand, may or may not occur. Garry, when we asked, took the time to come over here, and people said, “Why isn’t he here longer?” Well, a big part of the reason is he’s got to be back campaigning in Canada, not for himself, because this is the type of guy he is. If you get a chance to chat to him during the evening, you’ll find it’s a rare, rare event. An honest, nice politician. He’s come out here and here and gone in 5 days, which is a big effort. It’s a long way from Canada to come down to Australia. He’s not even on the West Coast of Canada. He’s in the Central parts, Central West. Garry, as I said before, 7 terms as a Federal Member of Parliament. A fascinating story.
I’ll let him tell it, but I’ve heard it a couple of times as we’ve talked with politicians, and I think it stunned a couple of them today to realise he didn’t come from this super pro- gun background. He was a guy that looked at it, and had a change of heart when he saw the facts, because of his own constituents. With no more ado, I’d like to introduce our very special guest speaker, the honourable Garry Breitkreutz.
Thank you very much, Graham, and it is, indeed, a pleasure to be here, to be invited. It’s an honour in fact, to be recognised enough to have you invite me down here. Graham has been a tremendous host. Jan Linsley has, I don’t know where she is, but I need to thank her. Oh, right here. Of course. For chauffeuring us around and introducing us to all the different politicos that we met, various people. We’ve had some very good meetings over the last couple of days, and it’s been an honour as well to speak with your Justice Minister, Minister of the Opposition. All kinds of the people that are the movers and shakers and decision makers in your Parliament. It has been good to listen to Samara. I have read her articles, her papers that she’s written, and you have a gem here you need to really listen to and be proud of. The research that she does is invaluable, and will be a tremendous asset to you all as you move forward. I really need to express my appreciation as well, for the work that she does. I’m glad I didn’t get between you and your food. I thought for a while there I was going to be delayed, and maybe prevent you from eating. That would have been a pretty unhappy group here, by the time I was done.
As Graham said, I was not always on the side of the issue that I am on now. I was elected as a Member of Parliament in 1993. A new political party was started called the Reform Party. We had some very strong policies, people really liked what we had to say, and we started out in Western Canada. The government that preceded us was a progressive conservative government. They had approximately 170 members of Parliament. When we came along they, in that ’93 election, were reduced to two MP’s, if you can imagine. I think that was one of the most earth shaking elections in Canadian history. Part of it was the vote split, so the Liberals, which are the centre left party, and who felt they deserved to have government forever almost, then formed the government, and they are the ones who brought in the gun registry.
Anyway, I was invited by my constituents at the end of January, at the beginning of 1994 to come to a meeting in a hall in a small community in the Northern part of my riding, on an evening where it was -39 degrees Celsius, and that’s a bit chilly. I drove out there, and it’s life threatening when you’re driving a car and something goes wrong. You’ve got issues, especially in that part of the country, because there’s very few people around to help you.
I went to that meeting and the hall was packed, because they were very, very concerned about what the government was planning on doing, in regards to gun control. I was not expecting to speak, but they got me up on the podium, and wanted me to make a speech. Well, this was the first speech I ever made, once I was elected. I got up there and I “blah, blah, blah”, but something about, “Well, how can anybody be opposed to gun control? It’s a good thing.
It’ll save lives and probably” … And they politely challenged me to scratch below the surface on the issue, and report back to them how this was going to work. I was naive, newly elected, rather young MP, and younger than I am now. 22 years ago. I accepted that challenge very honestly. I said, “Yes, okay. I will go back and I will check what this is all about and report to you how it’s going to be effective and so on, and get your response.”
I got a researcher by the name of Dennis Young, who helped me go and start looking at this issue. He’s an ex RCMP officer and really worked hard. We were a one-two punch on this. I couldn’t have done what I did without him. He’s been just terrific, just as Samara is invaluable to you. We started looking at this, and it wasn’t very long before I did a 180. I mean, I had to reverse my position completely. How can a gun registry, which is simply putting a piece of paper beside a firearm, in any way prevent anybody from doing anything with the firearm, or control crime in any way?
We started looking at this, and we put in access to information requests. In fact, by the time we were done, about 15 years later, we had put in over 500, almost 600 access to information requests. That’s a process whereby the government has to reveal to you what’s happening behind the scenes. Most of what we got was redacted. It was blacked out. The government tried to hide from us, but once in a while, the bureaucrats slipped up, and we started putting together some of the things that were going on.
For example, the costs. We were told by the minister … By the way, he said that when he became Justice Minister, Allan Rock, he said that only the police and military really should have firearms. Well, this got people excited immediately. Anyway, that gave you the mindset of him. Then, he also said it’s going to cost about 2 million dollars to taxpayers to put this in place. Well, through access to information, we found out that this was a little bit off the mark.
In fact, within a few years, it already had gone 500 times over budget. I mean, it was going to 500 million, going onto 1 billion dollars that taxpayers were forking out to pay.
I don’t know what your registry here is costing, and in Canada, they put the registry into the criminal code which overrides the rights of the provinces to regulate property. That’s how they were able to put it in across the country, because really, according to the Constitution of Canada, it’s regulation property and should … The Liberals overrode that, and we began to publicize this. Everybody said, “Oh, you Breitkreutz. You’re lying. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
It really hit the fan in 2002, when we were able to convince the Second Auditor General that we were working with, that they should do an audit of this thing. She looked at our numbers, and they appeared quite credible. When she released her report, and verified what I was saying was correct, that’s when it hit the fan.
I was on talk shows across the country continuously. Everybody was very, very interested in a program, and that really, really is where it took off, but it took a lot of work. It took the support and patience of gun owners to get to that point. I’m going to give you a little bit, and you probably know a lot of this, but I’m going to give you a little bit of the results of this and I’m going to tell you a little bit about what I told your Justice Minister yesterday, and some of the other people that I’ve met here, because I really wanted to share, and that’s my purpose in coming here, I wanted to share our experience in Canada, and what can he learn, what can everyone here learn around that, and it’s not that you can’t access these things on the internet and so on, but sometimes, maybe just a personal context can help.
In Canada, and Samara has verified here this in Australia, crime with firearms has continued to decline. In fact, the downward slope is constant from the 1990’s, before I was even elected, before the Liberal government was elected, firearms crime, suicides, everything was on a decline, and it never changed when they put in the registry. Samara has so well described that bureaucracy tried to hide this. They fudged the figures. One of the things they did was when they talked about firearms involved in crime, if they found a firearm anyway in the home, they linked it to the crime. It had nothing to do possibly with the crime, but that’s how they inflate it, and sometimes inflated the numbers by four times, as number of firearms involved in crime. These are the things that we uncovered, but that’s how the people that deal with these things, bureaucrats and so on, try to manipulate public opinion and so on. Putting in place, and the registry was in place for 12 years. More than 10 years. 12, 13 years, before we finally scrapped it 3 years ago.
One of the things that is often thrown at us, “Well, we don’t want to be like the big, bad USA.” We’re not American. This is a mantra I hear all the time in Canada. “We don’t want to be like the American’s”, so they compare Canada and US statistics. A very unfair comparison. If you look carefully at the numbers, there is a few pockets in the US where crime involving firearms takes place. Los Angeles, Chicago, New York. It’s tied in with the drug trade, with gang activities, and that kind of thing.
In my province of Saskatchewan, and the neighbouring province on the West, Alberta, and Manitoba, our culture is very similar to that of the states right across the border. Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota. The laws in those states, gun laws, are virtually non-existent. I don’t even know if there’s any restrictions on firearms in those states. What would you expect? You would expect that firearms crime in those states would be higher, because they don’t have any controls.
There’s no registry, there’s no licensing. In fact, crime involving firearms in those neighbouring states, where the culture is very similar to us, it’s all farms, it’s all rural, is 60% lower than in Canada, where we have stricter, much stricter firearms laws. These are the kinds of statistics that we began to publicise. That really, I think, influenced the whole issue. Something else that’s never mentioned, is that firearms crime in the US is falling more rapidly than in Canada, where we have stricter controls on firearms. Again, like Samara mentioned, conveniently ignoring some of these, I think, important statistics.
People often ask me, “Well, you know that shooting on Parliament Hill that we had a while back” … Which affected you here in Australia, because all of a sudden, the security around your parliamentary and legislative tightened up because of our experience in Canada, and I was right in the middle of this. I was about 10 steps away from where the shooter was finally killed. We were sitting in a meeting, the party Prime Minister was addressing us, and I was sitting right near the door where the shooter ran by.
He killed somebody at the War Memorial, and then he ran up on Parliament Hill, and Canadian’s are very trusting. He had no trouble getting in. He shot the guy at the door, and then came running down what we call the “Hall of Honour.” At that point, the Prime Minister turned white. After the first 2 shots, we realised something was going on. There was construction going on, and we thought, “Boy, they’re sure putting those explosions off at kind of an odd time.” Eventually, there was 61 shots that took place, and going through the doors, and they’ve left the marks in the doors, just as a reminder to people that terrorism is a serious thing.
People ask me, “Doesn’t that change your opinion on gun laws and gun control?” No. This person was deranged, he didn’t have a registered gun, he didn’t have a license. In fact, they don’t even know where he got it from. You can’t legislate against insanity. You can’t legislate against somebody who goes on the internet, and picks up an ideology that just doesn’t go with what we, as Canadian’s, value. It didn’t change it anyway, because our registry, if it had been in place, would never have prevented it anyway. A few years ago, Mom Boucher, who was the head of the Hell’s Angels biker gang, and I think you’re familiar with that, was in court in a murder trial. They brought his 3 guns in as evidence. He sits back there, “Well, did you bring in the registration certificates, too?” Hells Angels was mocking the whole system. They registered all their guns.
If they can register their firearms, what good is the registry doing? The initial response, and this is typical of politicians, one incident can cause them to come up with some kind of legislation, and politicians have to create the impression that somehow, they are making our lives better. They’ll come up with laws of all kinds. You can imagine, the number of laws we have in Canada in regards to some of the issues that have come up. There was a shooting in the late 1980’s in Montreal, where 14 young women students were killed. The government said, “Well, we have to do something”, so that’s when they dreamed up the gun registry. The bureaucrats recommended that this is probably what needed to be done. That was the beginning of it, and they put it in place, lo and behold, Dawson College happened after they had put this in place, where another 8 students were killed. Didn’t make any difference. I think that’s clear evidence that what was portrayed by the politicians is really going to make our lives safer really didn’t do a thing. I’m not here to tell you what to do. I made that clear to all the people I’ve met with. I’m just sharing my experience with registration and so on, but the registry that was put in place, and the Auditor General confirmed this, the registry that was put in place was riddled with errors.
She estimated that 90% of the registration certificates contained some kind of error. Not the whole thing wrong, but some kind of an error. That’s huge. I understand that there’s quite a large error rate on the registration certificates here, as well. The police in Canada do not trust the information that’s on there. It hasn’t changed any procedures. I read one of your people defended the registry here saying, “Well, it’s a good thing for police because they know if they go to a domestic dispute, whether there’s firearms present.”
It does not affect their procedures. In fact, it may have cost the lives of 2 policeman in Canada. One of the police in Quebec looked at the registry, and she went to this home to settle some kind of an issue there, and she was shot. She went, thinking there were no guns at that residence, and there’s another example in Ontario, very similar to that. That really has made it quite clear to the police that it doesn’t work. In my province, the Chiefs of Police came up to me. There’s 12 different departments, came up to me and said, “One of the first things we tell new people coming on to our detachment, is do not look at that gun registry. You can have the impression that there are guns there, and not guns there”. Sometimes, if the impression is that there’s a gun there, and somebody comes to the door, and the policeman, in one case, the fellow was holding a black stapler in his hand, and the policeman thought it was a gun. He almost shot that person. I mean, it is so dangerous to have the registry. They always defend it as saving, “It might save a life.” It’s probably cost more lives. In fact, if you would have taken the 2 billion dollars that has been spent on the gun registry, you could have bought, I think, 250 some MRI’s, those medical imaging machines to detect cancer. You could have put them right across Canada, and we’re short. Our health system is strapped for cash.
Or, for half a billion dollars, the Ontario Attorney General said he could put 5 to 6 thousand more police on the streets of his province. What would do more good? What would save lives? When you put in place something like this, and you’re spending money on it, taxpayers’ money doesn’t grow on trees. You are taking it from somewhere else, and you actually could save lives, if you put it in something that would be more useful.
One of the issues here and it’s timely, I guess, that I came right in the middle of this debate, is the Adler lever action shotgun. The questions you need to ask, and I think it’s good to sometimes not just tell people, but ask questions. What is the scientific evidence, or what factual evidence is there behind that restriction? We had the police, the Chiefs of Police, anyway, poked us in the eye a bit because they were upset that they were getting rid of the registry, and all that kind of thing. They started reclassifying firearms. Just recently, they had the fiasco with the Swiss brand of firearms. It had been legal to have these guns in Canada for 11 or 12 years, and then, all of a sudden, they decided to reclassify this firearm, because it had a pistol grip. What is the evidence that that is more dangerous than any other kind of firearm? It’s a simple, honest question.
Reclassification doesn’t really work anymore with rifles and shotguns in Canada. When they reclassified that, we don’t have a registry. All of a sudden, they made criminals out of people who had no idea that they had something in their possession that was now reclassified. It was illegal for them to have, if they didn’t have a particular license to hold that firearm.
Safety training has reduced accidental deaths, and I support that. I support licensing because a criminal background check is a good thing. In order to acquire a firearm, I think it’s fine to have people go through a few hoops and hurdles, and if you have a licensing system you can also maybe, if someone has some kind of a problem, you can maybe go and remove the firearms if they’ve committed a criminal offense and that kind of thing, so the licensing can be good in some cases.
Mentally ill people maybe could be checked out and so on. I’m not opposed to all kinds of gun laws.
We have a radical element in Canada, that doesn’t want to have any gun laws. Sometimes they make my life quite difficult, because a government can say, “Well, we can’t please anybody so we’re not going to try and do anything the gun community wants.” One of the messages I have for you is that it’s good to try to speak with one voice.
We have competing organisations in Canada that are trying to boost their membership, and some of them come up with statements that really the general public are upset with, because there’s one group who wants to get rid of licensing completely saying it’s their God given right to own firearms without the government interfering. It’s difficult in this day and age to completely go down that path. It just won’t work. They compete with other organisations who are much more politically astute for these things, and one of the things that I’ve been trying to do is to bring the organisations together.
I talk to the leadership from time to time, if they’re coming up with statements that really don’t help further the issues that really need to be dealt with. I don’t know if that’s happening here in Australia, but that’s the experience that I had in Canada. Government can dismiss the voice of gun owners if there isn’t some kind of a unified message that comes out with all that. Another issue that I was heavily involved in was the United Nations gun marking issue.
Australia signed onto it. Canada never did. That was a requirement that all firearms that were being imported had to have a special mark put on and it’s very costly. It would have increased the cost of firearms anywhere from two to 400 dollars. The requirement was to put the mark on there so it was very deep, so that they had to then re-do the manufacture of the firearms that were being imported into Canada. It was kind of a backdoors registry. I raised the issue, “Well, we already have unique identification. All the guns in the last 10 or 20 years have been uniquely identified because they have a serial number that’s different from all others.” When I raised this, and said, “Well, we don’t need to sign onto this. It’s completely unnecessary. It will just restrict the ability of gun owners to get firearms imported, and to buy what they would like.”
The police came and said, “No, no. No, no. That’s not true. There are many duplicate serial numbers”, and I thought, “Hmm. That’s really strange”, so we started doing some research on this. We found out that between 25 and 30,000 revolvers that the police had, all had, in the registry system for handguns, which we’ve had since 1934, in that registry system, they were all the same. The person who recorded it didn’t know a barrel from a bullet. She wrote down the model instead of the serial number. That was the reason that 25 to 30,000 guns all had the same registration number, or identification number. I mean, and the police were ahead of me. They had been talking to the minister, and saying, “No, no. No. Breitkreutz is wrong. Guns aren’t all uniquely identified now.” You have to be very, very careful, because sometimes people will try and twist the Minister into knots, and again, Samara has done a good job of explaining how that happens.
Politics is all about creating impressions, and if you can create the impression that you’re improving public safety, and that’s what the Liberals did back in 1995, they got a lot of support from the public, but I want to share this with you. We did some of our analysis and we found that the people who didn’t own firearms really didn’t vote on that issue. They didn’t care enough about it to make it a ballot issue, but firearms owners, and the estimate is between 2 and 5% of the vote, is affected by that issue. They voted on that issue, and Wayne Easter, a good friend of mine, even though he’s Liberal, was the Justice Minister at the time, in the year around 2000. A few years after that, the Liberals went into a minority government situation, and eventually lost government.
They did their only analysis on this, and there was also analysis of 4 University professors from 4 different Universities that looked at why the Liberals declined and lost government.
They determined that they lost approximately 60 seats on the gun issue. If you have a strong voice, and if you have a political party that’s really willing to make it a policy, and to carry something forward, like an issue like this, like in Canada, we really campaign as conservatives on the fact that we’re going to get rid of the long gun registry if we’re elected, and we carried through with it. It was a tough battle. We had a lot of MP’s elected out of Toronto and so on, and they were very nervous, but we pointed out to them that this isn’t going to cost them any votes in Toronto. In fact, it could even gain them votes. There’s just as many hunters and shooters in the … Our big cities only two and a half million, compared to some of yours, but it didn’t end up hurting us at all. In fact, it helped us form government. That Justice Minister warmed the young Liberals in his party who wanted to bring back a policy to reinstitute the gun registry that, “Don’t go there, folks. It cost us government once. We don’t want to go there again.”
The battle you have is fighting against politicians who want to create impressions, and the only thing that we found that we could counterbalance that with is getting out factual information. I mentioned the over 500 access to information requests. We kept putting out news releases all the time. The national media didn’t cover them much, but you know what happened? All the gun clubs, and all the wildlife federations, and so on, began to distribute our information. We bypassed the national media, and we were able to get out to the masses of people, the information that eventually changed the whole mind. At one point, they did a survey. 76% of Canadian’s were opposed to the gun registry. A lot of was because of the cost over it. Two billion dollars, that was just …
And the two billion doesn’t even include the compliance cost, the cost to gun owners to deal with this. That’s kind of, I think, one of the ways to battle the adverse political feelings that may develop over this, and politicians are always scared to do anything that might lessen their ratings in any way. One of the negative things, and I made this point to the Justice Minister, one of the really negative things that happened in Canada is that the registry became a shopping list for criminals. One of the access to information results that we got back, and I’m surprised they even released this to us, in a 4 year period, there were over 300 breaches of the registry. That means, they don’t know who got the information. They don’t know if some secretary in some police department sold it to somebody for a few thousand dollars, or people hacked in. Hackers today can get into that kind of information, and download the list. That information, which is a violation of the privacy rights of gun owners, to have that list out there, a registry is really a very negative thing in that respect. There are anecdotal evidence that people that registered some very valuable firearms had their houses broken into, and the thieves didn’t take some of the nice televisions, and other equipment that they had.
They searched through everything, until they found the gun safe, broke into it and stole the firearms. It becomes a shopping list for criminals. That can be a very, very negative thing, as well. Another note I have here is that in Toronto, and we’ve had hand gun registry since 1934, 90% of the handguns involved in crime are unregistered. What does that tell you? Criminals don’t comply with it. Even if they did, Mom Boucher, the biker gang head, registered them. He mocked the whole system. It didn’t make any difference as to how effective those guns were. That’s also very negative.
Another real negative that I mentioned to the people I met is that bringing in this law has really ruptured a good relationship between the police and the gun owning community, because they don’t even report thefts anymore of firearms, because they became the target. It was too easy for the policeman to come and say, “Oh, you didn’t store it properly”, and they charged the victim rather than the criminal. In fact, they often couldn’t even find the criminal. Having the guns registered, made no difference. That’s a very serious problem, because the police depend on the cooperation of good people to do their work. If those good people suddenly become reluctant to work together with the police, that’s a major, major issue.
Another interesting thing we discovered, and uncovered, is that gun owners are one third less likely to commit … A licensed gun owner is one third less to be involved in a violent crime, than your average citizen. That’s an interesting statistic. They tend to be more upstanding and more honourable members of the community than anybody else. Let me just review some of the main points that I want to leave you with, as you need to find key allies within your political parties, within your Parliament, amongst your politicians.
Get involved in a political party if you can, because that’s what happened in Canada. Gun owners began to really get involved in a political party that shared their views. Work for them, because then they’ll listen to you, because they often are strapped for workers, and strapped for cash. Get sound facts. Do your homework. Get good research, and you have someone here who is doing that. Then, work together. I think that’s very, very important, and emphasize the cost. If you took that money, and spent it on something that would really save lives, that would really do a lot. There’s one more thing I want to mention. Once we got rid of the gun registry, I started something called the “Outdoors Caucus.” It’s an organisation in Canada now, and it’s becoming, it’s growing dramatically within Parliament. What it does is protect hunters and anglers and trappers and sport shooters.
It has become very, very popular. We put on a gun shoot, just off Parliament Hill, every year, and the first year we only had like 15 people. The second year, it tripled to 45, and this last year, it tripled again. In 3 years, and the main participants are women. They love to come and try out all the different firearms. Everything is available there, and it reduces the fear or the anxiety that is often created by the media and so on. We found that that is a very, very good thing.
Also, to promote hunting and so on, because for young people to get out into nature and just experience the great outdoors, and Canada, of course, is noted for that, really, really has made a difference. This has really helped galvanise the gun community, as well, and bring them all together. All political parties participate in this. It’s not a partisan organization. That is something where you can be proactive and maybe you can get some of your politicians … Maybe you have that here, I don’t know, but I haven’t heard of it.
Get something like that organised, and start working in it, because it’s people from outside of Parliament really help me in getting this going. Anyway, I hope you’ve found this useful in some small way, and I look forward to your questions. I thank you very much for inviting me here. I’ve really enjoyed my time. I ask if I could maybe go out into the outback so I’m going to be going out there this weekend to, is it Longreach?
Longreach, yes, because I’ve always wanted to do that if I ever had a chance to come to Australia. Thank you again, very much.
Questions from the Audience
My name’s David: A good friend of mine through aviation is a man by the name of Tom Gresham, who many people here in the audience would know. He’s always saying that the single biggest problem with a registry is that it is actually a means of confiscation, and I was very keen to hear what your experiences were in Canada, and in particular, you mentioned the theft of data. Now, it would probably unsettle a lot of people in this room to know that that’s occurred very severely here in this state, and it is not widely known. My question to you was, have any of the people that you’ve had discussions with this week talked to you about the loss of that data here in Queensland? Because it’s been buried.
Garry: Well, it’s buried, because they didn’t tell me about it. Nope, I haven’t heard
Garry: … Anything about that. That would be an interesting research …
David: If Geoff or anybody else down the front here wants to talk to me later, I’m happy to talk to them.
Garry: Sure, yep.
Gareth: G’day, mate. My name’s Gareth. Both yourself and Samara, what have been your experiences with research and your data on this matter? Is it collected, the difference between firearms used in firearms crime, and the actual licensed and lawfully owned firearms used in firearms crime?
Garry: Yeah. We tried to get Statistics Canada to do that, and so far they have … Nobody has gathered any data on that. That would be a very good thing to research. I think that’s an excellent idea, but to my knowledge, nobody has really done anything … The closet we’ve come to that is that firearms owners are one third less likely to be involved in violent crime than the general community. That’s about the closest we can come to that.
Paul: Paul Feeney is my name. When the registry system was in place, was there any form or any level of civil disobedience in the form of firearm owners refusing to register firearms, or resisting to register of firearms?
Garry: There was a couple incidents openly. One person actually publicly displayed the fact that he was not going to comply with government laws, and they made an example of him. They just went, and it’s still in the courts now. They now are trying to take away his house as proceeds of crime. The government has just been vicious in Ontario, the Liberal government, in attacking this person, but to get to the root of what you’re asking, we went and did a lot of research, and found that in the 1960’s, before any hint of gun laws were coming in, the government determined there were about 11 million firearms in Canada. Then, subsequently, Dennis Young and I went and found the import and export numbers for every year. It varies greatly, but it averaged about a quarter of a million guns being added to the supply every year. By the time the registry had been put in place, there was between 18 and 21 million guns in Canada. The registry captured approximately 7 to 8 million guns. That gives you an idea that approximately one third of the firearms were registered. Does that qualify as civil disobedience?
I think so. They were very, very suspicious. I’m from a German background. You can tell by my name, very difficult name, Breitkreutz, but they, during the Second World War, they put in place a registry, and then they, in my province, which has the highest number of German … German is the leading ethnic group. They went and confiscated all their firearms, and they held them for about 4 years. People thought, “Well, what good does a registry unless you want to confiscate firearms?” People were very, very, leery. The joke was, “Why are gun owners oiling their lawns? So that their guns don’t rust, that they buried.” Okay.
Daryl: Yes, my name’s Daryl White. Very short question. Would you like a job with our Federal Parliament?
Garry: I would be … If it took me 17 years to accomplish what I did in Canada, I’m not sure how long it would take here.
Daryl: The weather’s better.
Garry: I agree. I agree. Yeah, that would be one plus.
Daryl: If you go out to Longreach, get use to the term vast areas of bugger all!
I participated in the Senate inquiry into illicit firearms and made a significant contribution to the majority report. I am also one of Australia’s 800,000 licensed firearm owners. I lead the Liberal Democrats, the only party in this place that without exception stands up for shooters. I am here to say, as plainly as I know how, that licensed firearms owners are not happy.
We are not happy the government is proposing to impose yet more constraints on law-abiding sporting shooters.
We are not happy this is being painted as an issue of national security.
We are not happy that lever action firearms, which have been in use in Australia for well over a hundred years, are now being described as ‘rapid fire firearms’.
We are not happy the federal government has placed a ban on imports of lever action shotguns with a capacity of more than five rounds — commonly called the Adler ban — while it reviews the National Firearms Agreement.
We are not happy that unelected bureaucrats in the Firearms and Weapons Policy Working Group, under the leadership of its chair Catherine Smith, have been agitating for more restrictions on legal gun ownership since 2005.
Dreaming up means of prohibition by stealth.
And we are not happy Justice Minister Michael Keenan has uncritically accepted the wish-list of state and federal police departments without even consulting with firearm groups until very recently.
Last week I managed to blackmail the government into adding a 12 month sunset clause to its Adler ban. This ban was originally introduced as a permanent ban, despite the statement by the Prime Minister that it was temporary.
I’m not pleased that my blackmail was even necessary.
I also blackmailed the government into reopening regular consultations with a long list of representative firearms groups, most of whom had heard nothing from Minister Keenan despite his claim that he had been consulting them.
Again, I am not pleased blackmail was necessary.
I am not pleased that I was the only parliamentarian willing and able to extract these commitments. When it comes to sticking up for shooters, the Nationals talk a lot but are short on action.
Above all, I am not pleased that neither the sunset clause nor the consultation will deter the government from attempting to further restrict the liberties of law abiding firearm owners, all part of drumming up votes on the grounds of proving how tough it is on terrorism.
The Coalition government is struggling in the polls, with little sign of recovery. The only issue on which it seems to make headway is national security.
So we continue to be bombarded with thundering rhetoric about the terrorist threat, demands that we accept ever-increasing powers for shadowy ‘intelligence’ organisations. And before long, we got a manufactured moral panic about guns.
How insulting to link Australia’s 800,000 licensed firearms owners to terrorism.
I can hear it now. The government will refer to the lone gunman in Tunisia who shot all those tourists on a beach, for which Islamic State has claimed responsibility. They will say, just imagine if a lone terrorist with an Adler shotgun were to turn up on Bondi Beach. To prevent Adler shotguns falling into the hands of terrorists, we need to stop licensed firearm owners from obtaining them.
The government will claim this treatment of gun owners is called for by the inquiry into the Martin Place siege. But this siege involved an offender with no licence, using an illegal firearm that was illegally obtained with no record of having entered the country. It seems neither the Prime Minister nor the Justice Minister have bothered to read the Martin Place siege report, either. The report actually only calls for two key things of relevance to guns. First, a reduction in the regulation of the licensed firearms market so that scarce police resources can be re-focused to frontline enforcement activities aimed at the illicit firearms market.
And second, a consideration of new technologies to facilitate better administration of firearms throughout the nation, something as simple as sharing firearms transaction data between jurisdictions. The Martin Place siege report contains no call for any further restrictions on lawful firearms ownership, or for changes to how firearms are categorised.
It also seems the Prime Minister and Justice Minister have not read the Senate inquiry report into illicit firearms. That inquiry heard from police that the firearm of choice for criminals is pistols. Rifles and shotguns are rarely used by criminals. And they are virtually never used for criminal purposes by licensed firearm owners.
Nonetheless, it appears that Catherine Smith from the Attorney General’s Department is seeking legal advice on whether gradual prohibition via reclassification will allow the government to avoid having to compensate firearm owners whose property is rendered illegal and must be surrendered.
This is an outrage.
Why do the bureaucrats who work so hard to convince Ministers to restrict legal gun ownership, have such a striking inability to develop strategies for effectively addressing illicit use of firearms by criminals?
There is significant international evidence about what works to disrupt illicit firearms use, and many practical strategies that could be implemented in Australia. Good, responsible policy making would reflect this.
Yet we have never seen anything to this effect. The bureaucrats advising Keenan on firearms are out of their depth, incompetent, or so wedded to an anti-gun agenda that they care little about what will genuinely improve community safety.
Linking plans to further restrict legal firearms ownership to terrorism is something even the Greens reject as outlandish.
The Government is intent on whipping people into such a state of fear about terrorism that bad decisions – which ultimately have nothing to do with terrorism and everything to do with poor opinion polling – can slip by unchallenged.
Australia’s 800,000 licensed firearm owners are not happy.
We are sick of being treated as criminals in waiting.
We are sick of being the scapegoats for poor policy, lazy policing, and the kind of stuff ups that allowed Man Monis back on the street. And be in no doubt, we will express our disgust at the ballot box.
Since 2005, the Firearms and Weapons Policy Working Group (FWPWG) – consisting of bureaucrats from government departments and police services in all jurisdictions – has been pushing for more restrictions on legal firearms ownership in Australia. Particular attention has been given to shifting pump action rifles and lever action firearms into Categories C or D, and introducing far more severe limits on magazine capacity, as well as making it easier for bureaucrats to prohibit firearms they simply do not like the appearance of. Plans to ‘reclassify’ various firearms have been actively underway since at least February 2014, long before the Adler shotgun issue arose.
Then, along came the Martin Place Siege, involving an unlicensed offender with a lengthy criminal past and an illegally obtained firearm of a type prohibited in 1996. The report into that incident is now being used to justify a sweeping review of the “technical elements” of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) with particular attention to “new technology”.
The firearm-related recommendations in that report focus on using advancements in technology to better facilitate the administration of firearms, such as sharing of firearms transaction data between jurisdictions. The report does not call for a review of technology in any other context and to suggest it does is simply misleading. The “technical elements” the report identifies relate specifically to genuine reasons for Category D licenses, and license duration.
The report does NOT call for a review of how firearms are categorised in the National Firearms Agreement. It is an outright lie to say that the report calls for any further restrictions on lawful gun ownership. What we are now seeing is the FWPWG using a convenient excuse to push their long-standing agenda, which is to implement massive further restrictions on legal firearms ownership in Australia.