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Broadcast Watchdog rules in favour of Shooters Union

One of our missions here at Shooters Union Australia is fighting anti-gun bias in the media (and elsewhere), and we’re delighted to share that we’ve had a significant win on that front – and set a precedent in the process.

You may recall last year, Channel Nine ran a story on the Wedgetail WT-15-01 gun, a semi-automatic firearm based on the AR-15 platform which had been classified as Category H then banned by the police, who said it fell into Category D.

The promo pieces for the Channel Nine story made reference to the gun “looking like a machine-gun, firing like a machine-gun, and killing like a machine gun”.

We took exception to this and made a formal complaint to Channel Nine, who essentially told us to go away– so we took the matter to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

After a very thorough investigation, ACMA have ruled the broadcasts contravened rules relating to accuracy, fairness and impartiality – particularly in regards to comparisons between the WT-15-01 and a machine-gun, which were found to be inaccurate and misleading, along with the suggestion the gun was more freely available than was in fact the case.

Significantly, this is the first time ACMA has found a broadcaster to be in breach for material broadcast as part of promotions for a show, and sends a strong message to media throughout the country that promo and teaser material also needs to abide by the rules too.

ACMA chairperson Nerida O’Loughlin said while the news story itself was accurate and impartial, the promotion was not.

“Although this is the first time we have seen a breach of the current code for a program promotion, broadcasters should be aware the obligations of accuracy and impartiality apply to both the news story and to its promotional content,” she said.

“The concise edited nature of promos means that broadcasters need to be even more diligent in ensuring compliance with the Code.”

“Broadcasters know the rules and we are disappointed that Channel Nine have let this slip through the cracks.”

Channel Nine will raise the investigation findings with staff, with an emphasis on Code provisions and the ACMA’s position on the operation of those provisions. ACMA have accepted this as being appropriate action to avoid future breaches and no further action is being taken.

We at Shooters Union are very pleased with the outcome of the investigation, which Shooters Union Australia president Graham Park said confirmed media outlets can’t just say whatever anti-gun stuff they like and expect it to go unchallenged.

“We don’t expect every media report to be pro-firearm, but in cases where a media outlet has well and truly crossed a line, as in this case, we can and will make formal complaints to the appropriate authorities and hold media outlets accountable for what they publish or broadcast,” he said.

On behalf of all our members and friends, we would like to thank everyone at ACMA for the professional, impartial, fair and thorough way they have handled this matter.

You can read the report for yourself here: https://www.acma.gov.au/publications/2020-03/report/bi-525-investigation-report

Shooters Union expands into South Australia

WE are delighted to announce we have an official presence in South Australia now, with Peter Heggie – proprietor of The Gunnery firearms dealership and shooting range in Adelaide – coming on board as our official South Australian representative.

Peter is passionate about standing up for shooters and making sure they are properly represented and looked after – both as individuals and when coming to The Gunnery.

“We actually care about shooters, we care about it and we want to make sure as shooters as a whole are looked after – and currently they’re not, but that is changing now,” he said.

“I want to achieve fairness for shooters, and to give South Australian shooters an alternative that is transparent and not working behind closed doors.”

His first order of business is to increase the number of SU members in South Australia, giving shooters a louder voice in the state – and encouraging more people to see the benefits and enjoyment shooting offers.
“We’re very proactive with new shooters – want to help them get into shooting,” he said.

“I can’t wait to get started and help make Shooters Union an even stronger positive force for shooters in South Australia.”

Shooters Union Australia president Graham Park welcomed Peter to the organisation, saying he was an ideal person to represent Australia’s leading pro-shooting organisation in the Festival State.

“Peter is passionate, dedicated, knowledgeable and has been part of the South Australian shooting community for many years,” he said.
“He believes in a fair go for shooters and making sure their voices are heard. “We are delighted to have him on board with us and are very excited about some of things in the pipeline.”

Shooters Union Australia now has local representatives ‘on the ground’ in Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and South Australia.

Shooters Union South Australia can be reached by e-mail at: sa@shootersunion.com.au

Gun Control Australia Making up Issues Again

ONCE again, a major Australian media outlet is giving precious column inches to the inane thought bubbles of Gun Control Australia.

The latest offender is Sydney’s The Daily Telegraph, which ran a story entitled “Guns Out For Schoolboys” on February 29.

We’re not going to link to the story – we know that media metrics only record total clicks/visits to a story, not the reason people read it, so reading the story to be angry about it only encourages them to write more, since their metrics say lots of people click on those stories.

In the story, GCA call for a ban on shooting competition events in all NSW schools, singling out two private schools in Sydney and demanding they end their shooting competition programme and remove all guns from the schools.

The schools, to their credit, declined to engage with the anti-gun rhetoric, and the Association of Independent Schools NSW literally states the schools are well within their rights to offer a totally legal activity to students, and fully supports them offering legal sporting activities to their students.

Remember: No-one is forcing these students to participate. They will be using specialist single- shot target rifles – quite possibly air rifles, even – conducted in serious competitions affiliated with peak sporting bodies.

Do we want teenagers learning about responsible firearm use in a safe, controlled environment as part of a sport with an Olympic or Commonwealth Games pathway at its upper levels, or do we want them thinking video games are a realistic representation of guns?

The guns the hoplophobes wet their collective pants over have been illegal in Australia for nearly three decades. They were illegal more than a decade before most current high school students were even born. It is absurd to be even considering properly organised target shooting competitions at high schools as some sort of undesirable or harmful situation.

Many of our members – including our president and our media officer – learned safe and responsible firearms handling as part of competition target shooting in high school.

The number of students who have been hurt as part of an organised school-based target shooting competition match in Australia is, as far as we can tell, zero – which makes it safer than rugby, AFL, soccer, cricket or even regular athletics.

What continually irritates us is how the media so frequently ignore our press releases, even on major issues – yet seem only too happy to give oxygen to GCA’s empty and harmful drivel.

Here’s what we need you to do: When you see an anti-gun story, or a story with GCA as the primary source, contact the media outlet and complain. Be polite about it, but make it clear that every time they run a story that paints law-abiding firearms users in a negative light, they’re going to get complaints – and with readership numbers falling dramatically, they really shouldn’t be trying to alienate even more readers.

For our part, we’ve asked the journalist responsible for this story why they thought GCA’s random thoughts were newsworthy, and how come they never seem to run any positive stories based on the press releases we send them.

Keeping media and politicians accountable is important work, and we need all the support we can get to keep it up and achieve even more results on behalf of #allshooters.

If you’re not already a member, why not join Shooters Union – and if you are a member, why not consider sponsoring a friend to join? https://shootersunion.com.au/join-shooters-union/

Shooters Union joins Federal Firearms Stakeholder Meeting

Ensuring Gel Blasters remain classified as toys, a national permanent firearms amnesty and implementing digital firearms licences and PTAs topped the agenda of a recent Commonwealth- level meeting in Canberra attended by Shooters Union Australia.

Our vice president David Brown attended a Federal Firearms Stakeholder committee meeting in Canberra on February 28, following an invitation from Border Force representatives for Shooters Union to be involved alongside representatives from the shooting industry and Commonwealth

One of the top items on the agenda was the agreement to implement a national permanent firearms amnesty. At this stage, it is envisioned the amnesty will be run along the successful Queensland model, where guns are taken to firearms dealers and registered to a licence or surrendered to the dealer.

It was also reportedly agreed at the meeting that all states would move towards digital licensing and PTA systems; many are already well on the way to implementation.

The Commonwealth Government is also planning new firearms trafficking laws, with maximium penalties including life terms for particularly serious offences.

Mr Brown’s suggestion for better education on what gun parts require import approval and which ones do not was also well received and we will be following it up in due course.

One topic featured prominently at the meeting – namely gel blasters, and a general willingness to keep them considered as toys.

“The idea that gel blasters and airsoft guns are toys and are classified as such as very important to Shooters Union,” Mr Brown said. “Australia is the only civilised country in the world which restricts them – even the United
Kingdom and Communist China allow their citizens to own and use them.”

Mr Brown said it was very clear at the meeting that both industry and ABF did not want further restrictions and were even supportive of the toy importers getting a better deal.

“It became quite clear to me listening to the meeting and in subsequent conversations with the two gel blaster industry representatives that we, the firearm industry, need to support these retail groups in keeping gel blasters out of the ‘real’ firearms world,” Mr Brown said.

“It is in our interest because if gel blasters and airsoft guns end up restricted or banned because of their appearance, it could flow onto real firearms with hysterical media and anti-gun groups spouting their uninformed, hateful nonsense to the public and politicians.”

Shooters Union is about standing up for all shooters, and as part of that we are a vocal supporter of gel blaster and soft air/airsoft guns, and openly supports the gel blaster and airsoft industry in their efforts towards full, nationwide legalisation and acceptance.

Make sure you’re following us on Facebook and Twitter, or visit us on the OzGunLobby forums, to stay up to date with everything we’re doing!

Some advice about responding to the Qld Govt “Consultation on replica guns and gel blasters

The Queensland Government currently has a “Public consultation on Gel Blasters and other Replica Firearms” underway.

The consultation/survey can be found here:

It is very obvious to us the survey has been worded with a view to further restricting gel blasters and replica guns in Queensland, so it is important as many law-abiding firearms users (and people who are concerned about Government over-reach) provide helpful responses to the consultation.

Shooters Union Australia has a very simple position: Gel Blasters are toys and replica guns are harmless inert items; they cannot hurt anyone and they should not be restricted in any way.

To that end, we have put together some “answering points” for you to respond to the consultation with. Please do not just copy/paste these responses; public servants know when this is happening and will disregard the responses.

Use these points to help you put the answers in your own words. If you need any help, contact us on media@shootersunion.com.au

QUESTION: What do you know about gel blasters?

ANSWERING POINT: They are toys which fire a harmless gel ball and cannot hurt anyone.

QUESTION: How do you think gel blaster and replica firearm ownership impacts on community safety?

ANSWERING POINT: It does not, especially considering cricket bat ownership and kitchen knife ownership are not deemed to impact community safety and they have actually killed and injured people, unlike gel blasters or replica guns.

QUESTION: Are you supportive of a sensible set of regulations around replica firearms and gel blasters to support a greater level of community safety?

ANSWER: Strongly Disagree

QUESTION: Please provide your opinion on there being a need for a person to have a reasonable excuse when possessing replica firearms and gel blasters (for example, a reasonable excuse may include being a member of a gel blaster club and taking part in club activities, military re-enactments etc).

ANSWERING POINT: People should not need a reason to own a gel blaster or replica gun. They are toys or decorative items; they cannot hurt anyone.
Also, we do not require baseball bat owners to be a member of a sports club, so why should we make people buying a toy be a member of a club?

QUESTION: How should replica firearms and gel blasters be required to be stored when not in use?

ANSWERING POINT: However the owner feels like it. They are toys and we should not be regulating how people store their toys.

QUESTION: Do you have any ideas on other ways to enhance community safety around the use of replica firearms and any suggestions to enhance the Queensland Police Service ongoing awareness campaign ‘Stop and Think’, which focuses on responsible ownership of gel blasters and replica firearms?

ANSWERING POINT: Educate the public that assault rifles and machine-guns have been illegal for a long time and are almost non-existent in Australia, so if people see one then it is almost certainly a gel blaster or replica and they should not be alarmed. Also there are laws in place covering brandishing replica weapons (including gel blasters) in public, with prison terms attached, so there is no need for additional laws or regulations.

Northern Territory Reverses A22R Reclassification

In a huge win for shooters, the NT News is reporting the Northern Territory Police Service has apparently agreed to reverse its recategorisation of the Savage A22R and Verney-Carron Speedline rifles.

Late last year, the Acting NT Police Commissioner used his powers under the Territory’s Firearms Act to declare the guns were Category C and D respectively, effectively banning them.

We spearheaded the effort to fight this, alongside our friends at SIFA, the NT Field & Game Association and SSAA NT, and we are delighted to say the NT Police have indicated they will likely be reversing the decision and returning the guns to Categories A and B where they belong.

According to the story, a Northern Territory Police spokeswoman said “NT Police are repealing the declaration with a view to engaging in more consultation with all parties involved; to make a considered and informed decision on the classification of these types of firearms”.

This is an incredible result and a significant win for shooters not just in the NT, but all across Australia.

It’s also one of the few times since 1996 that a significant restriction on shooters has been successfully fought and overturned and sends a strong message to politicians and the anti-gun mob that we’ve had enough of being used for political points scoring and being treated like potential criminals.

This outcome has been made possible by the strength and support of our members as well – so if you know someone who isn’t a Shooters Union member (maybe it’s you?), why not encourage them to join so we can keep fighting for the rights of #allshooters?

Follow this link and get involved! https://shootersunion.com.au/join-shooters-union/

Learn more about our Legal Defence Fund

You can donate here.

More details are available here: FAQs

If you have any questions, please email legal@shootersunion.com.au

Shooters Union is establishing a legal fighting fund

One of the questions we get asked is: How come we’re not constantly fighting the State Governments in court every time they pass anti-gun laws?

The simple answer is: Fighting Governments in court is really expensive, even if you win – and even more so if you don’t.

However, it’s become increasingly apparent that there are cases where it’s a necessity – and to that end, Shooters Union Australia is establishing a Legal Defence Fund to help stand up for the rights of #AllShooters.

What will the Fund be used for?

The Legal Defence Fund will be used to make financial contributions to legal cases (including Civil Administrative Tribunal hearings and appeals) directly affecting law-abiding firearms owners as a group.

Who will administer the Fund?

Funding decisions will be made by the Shooters Union Australia executive board, with input from members and experts if required or appropriate.

If a SUA member is charged with a firearms offence, will the Fund help pay for their lawyer?

At this stage no, unfortunately. The Fund is intended for legal matters which affect a number of law-abiding shooters – such as getting suppressors legalised, ensuring handguns remain available to primary producers for occupational reasons, making Category C firearms available for competition target shooting and recreational shooting, or challenging unfair legislation – rather than individual cases.

Having said that, if the outcome of an SUA member’s legal case may set a legal precedent, the executive may opt to make assistance from the Fund available at their discretion and on a case-by-case basis.

How can I get in touch about Fund-related matters?

Email: legal@shootersunion.com.au

Queenslanders slam government for shifting legal goalposts

THE Queensland Government is coming under pressure from furious primary producers and shooters over allegations they ‘moved the goalposts’ to nullify a legal case result which had ruled against them.

Queensland farmer James Ryder requires a firearm suppressor to mitigate hearing loss from controlling feral pests on his farm, and applied to the police Weapons Licensing Branch (WLB) for an exemption to own one.

His application was denied due to suppressors being categorised the same as machine-guns and rocket-launchers under current law, but he was advised – in writing – that he could appeal the matter to the Queensland Civil Administration Tribunal (QCAT), which he did.

QCAT not only ruled in Mr Ryder’s favour, it questioned the restrictions on suppressors and suggested they be removed from the restricted category.

The police appealed the ruling, claiming QCAT did not have jurisdiction to hear the case – and QCAT agreed with them, essentially nullifying its earlier ruling.

The decision has caused outrage among primary producers and shooters alike, with Mr Ryder accusing the state Government of moving the goalposts because they didn’t get the outcome they expected.

“I have followed all the correct procedures, including the police service’s own advice, and they’ve decided to change the rules because they don’t like how it’s turned out for them,” he said.

“It’s completely unacceptable and I will be taking this legal fight further.”

Mr Ryder said he honestly did not see why there was such a fuss over suppressors, either.

“If I was 150km south across the border in NSW, I could easily apply for – and get – a suppressor permit for use on my farm, yet in Queensland they are lumped in with machine guns, bazookas and land mines,” he said.

“Hearing loss is not a particularly pleasant thing to experience ,especially when there is a simple fix available that satisfies both Worksafe noise guidelines and biosecurity obligations for farmers at no risk to the community.

“Noise induced hearing loss is a major issue amongst farmers, farm workers and recreational shooters. Suppressor are a safe effective engineering control measure that follows the hierarchy of control guidelines required under Queensland Work Safe laws.”

His continuing fight to legalise a vital piece of safety equipment is not over and has the support, backing and assistance of the state’s pre-eminent pro-gun organisation, Shooters Union Australia, with president Graham Park describing the suppressor ban as ridiculous and harmful.

“We firmly believe that farmers, primary producers and hunters should be able to legally own suppressors for their firearms,” he said.

“It’s common knowledge the ban on suppressors exists because of how they’re portrayed in movies and video games. People have no idea how they actually work in real life.

“They do not completely silence the shot – it is still quite loud – but what they do is bring the noise level down to a safer level to mitigate hearing loss.”

Mr Park said Shooters Union had established a legal fighting fund to help Mr Ryder appeal his case further and get the vital equipment legalised in Queensland.

“We’re not all going to suddenly turn into John Wick because we can put a sound suppressor on a hunting rifle,” Mr Park said.

“NSW issues suppressor permits and they haven’t had any problems, they’re freely available in New Zealand without issues – so why is Queensland dragging their heels on this?

“Even if you don’t like guns, the implications of the Government shifting the goals to get results it wants are extremely worrying and should concern all Australians.

“It’s just not on, and we should all be taking a stand against it.”

Positive News from the NT


WE have some good news to start 2020 off!

As you may recall, late last year the Northern Territory Government unilaterally recategorised the Savage A22R lever-release .22 rifle from Category A to Category C, and recategorised the Verney-Carron Speedline lever-release centrefire rifles from Category B to Category D.

This was done through a provision in the state’s Firearms Act which, regrettably, allows the Territory’s Police Commissioner to recategorise firearms simply because he or she feels like it.

Needless to say, we at Shooters Union were not having a bar of it and were quick to make our displeasure known, challenging the NT Police Commissioner and the NT Justice Minister on the issue and demanding an explanation.

We are very pleased to report that, as a direct result of our efforts and those of our fellow shooting organisations – including SIFA, the NT Field & Game Association, and SSAA NT – the Territory’s Government has extended the deadline for surrender or relicensing of the affected firearms by 90 days (to the end of April) and is now actively consulting with shooters on the situation.

Given there is an election coming up in March, the NT Government is highly unlikely to want 16,000 law-abiding firearms owners (and voters!) off-side, and we are reliably informed the Government is giving some serious thought to its position on the A22R and Speedline issue.

While there’s still some work to be done, the message and the takeaway is clear: When you speak up, get active and get involved, you can get results!

On that note, we have also contributed financially to a hugely successful campaign in the NT creating “I SHOOT, I VOTE” and “I HUNT, I VOTE” bumper stickers for distribution.

The campaign, being spearheaded by our friends at the NT Field & Game Association, has been a runaway success, with the entire first printing run of about 7,000 stickers being taken up already and a second print run in the works too.

The stickers are available absolutely free from shooting clubs, gun shops, pubs and newsagents throughout the Territory, as well as in a digital file for an e-mail signature too.

Make sure you get one of the stickers and help get the message out – and remind politicians that people with gun licences also have a vote on election day, and will use it to support the people who genuinely support us.