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A snapshot of good news from Shooters Union

WE at Shooters Union HQ have always prided ourselves on proactively representing and lobbying for the interests of our members and law-abiding firearms users across Australia.

That work takes a lot of forms – everything from media liaison to social media engagement to lobbying MPs – and while a lot of what we do has to stay on the QT to avoid throwing a spanner into the works, we have some good news and a rare opportunity to present a snapshot of just some of what we’ve been doing on your behalf lately.

In the past fortnight, Shooters Union president Graham Park has met with three Queensland MPs (including PHON’s Steve Andrews) as well as had a meeting with Police Minister Mark Ryan, and sat in on a Ministerial Advisory meeting at which Mr Ryan was being briefed.

The meetings were productive and we have another four meetings with politicians scheduled over the next month or so as well where we will continue to represent our members and make sure the rights and interests of law-abiding firearms users are protected and respected.

Shooters Union Australia recently made a written submission to the Legal Affairs & Community Safety Committee against the recent firearms law amendment bill introduced by Toowoomba North MP Trevor Watts.

The Bill, if passed, would make it illegal to possess digital blueprints for a firearm at the same time as the tools or equipment which could be used to make a gun, would introduce Firearm Prohibition Orders essentially allowing warrantless searches on people slapped with one, and generally make extra-illegal a number of things which were already illegal anyway.

Earlier this week, Shooters Union president Graham Park attended in person a meeting of Legal Affairs & Community Safety Committee, where he spoke against the amendments on behalf of our members, highlighting SU’s concerns regarding overreach, potential to criminalise innocent people, and a general lack of point to the legislation.

The Queensland Law Society also made a submission making similar points to ours, expressing concern over the civil liberties implications and overreach potential of the bill.

The major positive change we can confirm for Queensland shooters is that in the coming weeks, new licence applicants will be able to lodge their identity verification paperwork at any Australia Post office which also handles passport applications, and within the next six months or so it is understood complete new licence applications will also be able to lodged at Post Offices.

This is fantastic news for shooters in the sunshine state, especially those in rural areas where the nearest police station might be quite some distance away or not always staffed.

It will also help normalise the shooting sports as well as reducing some of the social stigma around obtaining a firearms licence, not to mention taking some of the workload off police and allowing those resources to be diverted to frontline officers.

As a result of discussions Shooters Union has been involved in up in Queensland, the process for obtaining Permits To Acquire for firearms on a Collector’s Licence is being simplified as well, reducing some of the paperwork both for the collector and Weapons Licensing Staff.

Gel Blasters continue to increase in popularity in Queensland, where they are rightly classified as toys, and as part of our commitment to responsible firearms use and public safety, we, along with Gel Blaster industry representatives, have pledged our in-principle support for what essentially
amounts to a “Don’t Be A Muppet With Gel Blasters” campaign by the police.

While the details and launch date are still being finalised, it is understood the campaign will involve the distribution of literature at point of sale as well as online and via social media reminding purchasers of Gel Blasters that while they are toys, they should not be waved around in public or otherwise used irresponsibly – basic common sense, in other words.

This is just a snapshot of what we do and a lot of this isn’t unusual for us – we’re just in the unique position where we can talk about it more openly at the moment because of how some aspects are coming together.

It’s all part of our commitment to representing #allshooters and working to make a real difference for our members, fighting for your rights and making sure your voice is heard.

If you’re not a Shooters Union member, now is a fantastic time to join – membership is only $35 per annum (and you can remain a member of your existing shooting club as well, if you like!) and is a Genuine Reason for having a Category A & B licence in Queensland and New South
Wales.

Find out more here: https://shootersunion.com.au/join-shooters-union/

Fear mongering media at it again

ANOTHER day, another media outlet writing fear-mongering stories about sporting firearms.

This time, the offender is none other than the Daily Mail, who have taken aim at the Verney-Carron Speedline rifle.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7370191/How-deadly-rifle-fire-six-shots-three- seconds-exploiting-Australias-tough-gun-laws.html

There’s some real howlers in the story – “Military-style ammunition,” describing the gun as “Semi-Semi-Automatic”, and extensive comment from GCA & Friends – but it also utterly fails to explain exactly how complicated it is to get a gun licence and how each gun needs a permit on top of that.

Credit where it is due for the journalist actually speaking to the SSAA’s CEO and including his comments in the story, but the fact remains this isn’t a pro-shooting story and looks pretty clearly to us like a fear-mongering exercise for views and shares.

As much as we’d love to just roll our eyes and move on, the reality is this sort of thing is how the Adler fiasco started – deliberate fear-mongering – so we need you all to help us keep on top of this and hold the gun-haters to account.

Remember: When you see the media reporting negatively on firearms, complain to the outlet and on their social media pages. Be polite and civil but don’t let up either. They need to understand: Law-abiding firearms users are NOT criminals, we are NOT scapegoats and we have
had ENOUGH of being disrespected by the media.

If you’re not already a Shooters Union member, please considering joining us – it’s only $35 per year and ensures we can keep the pressure on politicians, the media, and anyone else working to undermine our freedoms and interests.

Some delays to Queensland PTA processing expected

Shooters Union HQ have been advised by the Weapons Licensing Branch in Queensland that there may be a delay of a few days in processing Permits To Acquire (PTAs) for the next few months, while the branch undergoes some much-needed systems improvements and backlog clearance.

We understand that for the next few months, PTA applications will be the subject of short delays, potentially taking up to 14 days to process.

The reason for this is WLB are undertaking a special project to clear the backlog of Form 10s (the pink Dealer Transaction forms) and the Notices of Disposal (the part of PTAs which get sent back to WLB to confirm which gun you acquired with it).

WLB tell us they process more than 1000 PTAs every week, which is a lot of Form 10s and Notices of Disposal; hence the backlog and need to update and improve the systems there.

We understand that once the backlog is cleared, the improved processes and systems should mean that PTA processing will return to their current efficient turnaround time.

While delays in processing PTAs are frustrating, especially when you’re looking forward to picking up a new gun, we are hopeful the backlog clearing and process improvements will streamline things generally in the future.

For now, we’re asking our members to be patient during the process and understand it should lead to improvements all around – including in PTA processing – and suggest you avoid contacting WLB with “Where’s my PTA?”-type queries until well after the 14 day expected processing time has passed.

Letter from SU to Peter Dutton: RE Berika Black Ops Shotgun Ban

The Hon Peter Dutton MP
Minister for Home Affairs
Via e-mail
July 22, 2019

Dear Mr Dutton,
I am writing to you on behalf of Shooters Union Australia (representing Australia’s more than one million law-abiding firearms users) regarding the recent importation issues with the Berika SP-12 shotgun.

The shotgun, which is chambered for sporting 12 gauge shotshells and works on a manually operated straight-pull bolt, is classified as a Category A firearm in Queensland (and a number of other states), yet has been declared a prohibited import in its current form by Border Force due to
its alleged resemblance to an assault rifle.

What is even more concerning is a quantity of these shotguns had already been legally imported and then sold to licensed firearms owners – who obtained the appropriate permits to acquire from their state firearms registry – several months before Border Force apparently decided the firearm fell afoul of the appearance clauses in the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1956.

We would like to know why this issue was not identified when the firearms were first imported into Australia?

They would have been accompanied by import paperwork and declarations clearly identifying the shipment as firearms – did no-one at Border Force inspect the shipment?

If not, why not?
And if so, why were concerns not raised at that point about whether or not the shotguns were a permissible import in that configuration?

We are told the importer has now spent approximately $30,000 out of their own pocket organising the minor cosmetic changes Border Force are requiring to make the shotgun suitable for import.

It is, we submit, entirely unacceptable for Border Force to approve something for import then change their minds several months later purely because of how the item looks – especially when it is something like a firearm, which is an expensive and involved purchase requiring police approval at State level as well.

We note this is not the first time Australia’s law-abiding firearms users have been affected by this issue either; we direct your attention to the Riverman OAF (Operator-Assisted Firearm) straight-pull rifle saga from last year when owners of that firearm (considered Category B in Queensland) found it retroactively banned by Border Force based purely on its appearance.

While we support Border Force’s efforts to keep our country safe from illegal firearms, we must question the public safety value in the continued existence of so-called ‘appearance laws’ in the Commonwealth gun import legislation.

Why, exactly, is a firearm’s appearance grounds for its banning or restriction? Who is such a law protecting?

On behalf of our members and the more than one million law-abiding firearms users in Australia, we ask you look into these situations as a matter of urgency and take steps to ensure shooters are not being punished by an emotion-based law which serves no safety benefit and only causes headaches for law-abiding Australians, adds costs to legitimate business, and increases the workload of Border Force personnel.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Park
President, Shooters Union Australia
0418 700 320 or president@shootersunion.com.au

Border Force Retroactively Bans Shotgun for Looking Scary

Did no-one at Customs open the shipment – a shipment accompanied by a shipping manifest and B709A import paperwork clearly and explicitly declaring the contents to be firearms – when the Berika shotguns were imported and say “Hmmm, firearms? Better check this out just to make
sure everything is in order”?

We at Shooters Union HQ are starting to wonder if anyone if Australian Border Force actually knows much about firearms, especially given the most recent debacle that’s come to light involving a straight-pull shotgun.
Australian Border Force are understood have sent out letters to gun dealers and some registered owners of the Berika SP-12 ‘Black Ops’ straight-pull 12ga shotgun, informing them Customs have declared the shotgun considered Category A in Queensland) as a “Prohibited Import” because they allegedly resemble an M-16, and invited owners to voluntarily surrender the firearms with compensation to be determined later. You can insert your own skeptical face emoji here.

If not, why the hell not? What are our tax dollars paying for?

And if so, why didn’t someone say “These look a bit questionable category-wise, better check with someone further up the command before releasing these to the wholesaler” if there was any question of the shotguns not being Category A?

No, apparently the best course of action was to send the shotguns merrily on their way – where they were then legally purchased by law-abiding firearms users who had obtained a Permit To Acquire from their state firearms registry – and then decide several months later that mistakes
had been made and to retroactively ban the gun.

This isn’t the first time Customs have pulled this stunt either, with the Riverman OAF .223 rifle – a straight pull design with some design similarities to the Armalite Rifle Model 15 – falling afoul of import restrictions after they’d been imported and sold last year.

It’s worth noting that because the decision to ban these guns from import has been made at Commonwealth level, it overrides anything the individual states might have to say on the matter – thus, even though Queensland might consider the shotgun Category A, as far as the Federal Government is concerned it’s Category D or R because of the appearance clause in the import laws and therefore verboten.

It should go without saying that we hate appearance laws and want them gone – they serve no legitimate purpose, they have no public safety benefit, all they do is cause headaches for law- abiding firearms users.

How a gun looks has no bearing on how it functions, and given no-one except licensed shooters is going to see one at the range or out hunting anyway, they’re doubly pointless and unwanted laws.

It’s time they were scrapped and we’re going to need your help to make that happen – so stay tuned.

Appearance laws are bad enough but you can’t decide something passes those laws then arbitrarily change your mind months later on a whim.

We will be writing to Border Control Minister Peter Dutton demanding an explanation on how this has happened once again, and we encourage you to do so as well.

In the meantime, until you are officially advised by your state’s firearms authority or an appropriate Commonwealth Government agency that these particular guns have been officially been reclassified or banned, we suggest you do not surrender your Berika SP-12 ‘Black Ops’ shotgun voluntarily, and instead seek qualified legal advice.

Stay in touch with Shooters Union on Facebook or Twitter and keep up to date at ShootersUnion.com.au

Channel 9 have a strange definition of accurate and impartial

YOU may recall a few weeks ago we took Channel Nine to task over their outrageous report on the Wedgetail WT-15-01 firearm, which among other things described it as a “murder weapon” and a machine-gun. Channel Nine have provided what can only be described as an outrageous and laughable response to our formal complaint, which we now share with you, our members and supporters. The .pdf of the letter is here.

“In order to respond your complaint, our Compliance Department have reviewed the Report, the Code provisions referred to, and the concerns that you have raised. Based on our review, we have not been able to identify any factual material contained in the Report that was inaccurate. (emphasis ours) Indeed, the Report referred to information from the Queensland police when describing the firearm.

Nine maintains that the Report accurately represented factual material as required by the Code.

With respect to the allegations of bias against lawful gun owners, the Report contained an analysis of the recent confiscation orders issued in Queensland, as well as using online polls to illustrate how upset the confiscation orders have left gun owners. As indicated above, the terms used in the report were obtained from Queensland Police.

The Report also involved interviews with a representative of the Firearm Owners United, Kirk Yatras, a Gun Control Australia representative, Samantha Lee and a lawyer from Rostron Carlyle Rojas Lawyers, Maria Bouci.

We note that the Report did not assert that opinion that suggested illegality on the part of lawful gun owners. In fact, the Report included the statements from Mr Yatras that described the numerous differences between the firearm and a machine gun.

Further, Mr Yatras indicated that the confiscation orders where due the lack of
excessive recoil which has assisted inaccuracy surrounding the Firearm.

While the Report did include a statement from Ms Lee observing that the firearms were “very dangerous weapons”, this was clearly indicated as being the perspective of those calling for greater gun control.

This was immediately followed by a voiceover implying that it is unfair that gun owners are not being compensated for their loses as a result of the confiscation orders. This was also immediately followed by Mrs Bouci’s statement that “it’s definitely fair if they do receive compensation from this mistake by police.”

Based on this, Nine maintains that the Report was impartial and did not suggest any impropriety on the part of lawful gun owners such as to constitute a breach of clause 3.4.2 of the Code. (emphasis ours)

Additionally, having reviewed the Promotion, Nine considers that the references to the word “Machine gun” constituted facts (emphasis ours) which were to be expanded within the Report.

Nine Moreover, given that the issue of firearm ownership and regulation is an important public interest issue, Nine considers that the Report was an appropriate critical examination of a controversial issue, as contemplated by clause 3.4.3 of the Code.

Accordingly, we do not consider that there has been contravention of any matter covered by the Code in this instance. (Our emphasis)

We hope that this helps to address your concerns, however if you are not satisfied with this response, you are able to refer the matter to the Australian Communications and Media Authority”
**

THE SHORT VERSION:

As we see it, Channel Nine are dismissing our complaint, claiming it wasn’t inaccurate because they apparently used police information (To the best of our knowledge QPS have never described the gun in question as actually being a machine-gun or a murder weapon), they weren’t biased because they talked to someone from a pro-shooting organisation, and that it’s OK to
describe things as a ‘machine-gun’ when they aren’t because… it kind of looks like one maybe, and someone said it actually wasn’t a machine-gun in the later news report itself?

We note no mention was made of the “murder weapon” claims or the general hysterical tone of the promotions for the piece – which was a strong element of our complaint – in the response.

Suffice it to say we will indeed be referring this matter to the Australian Communications and Media Authority – it’s one thing to spread or promote sensationalist misinformation about lawful firearms users in Queensland, but it’s quite another to basically tell us to get stuffed when we stand up and hold the perpetrators to account. The one positive out of this is proof that complaints made via the official channels will at least be looked into – so the next time you see a TV station getting it badly wrong when reporting on firearms, file a complaint, and let the media know that firearms owners won’t stand for inaccuracy, sensationalism and fearmongering.

Media Union refuses to ensure fair and accurate reporting for gun owners

We all know the Australian mainstream media are terrible at reporting fairly on anything firearms related.

At best it’s inaccurate and at worst it’s a blatant hit piece with unashamed bias and blatant scaremongering.

As part of Shooters Union’s efforts to represent all shooters, in April we wrote physical letters to senior executive members of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), who are effectively the journalist’s union and watchdog.

In that letter, our president Graham Park asked the MEAA to encourage its member journalists to give serious consideration on how they write about firearms-related news and issues, and the impact that biased or sensationalist reporting had on the country’s millions of law-abiding firearms users.

MEAA President Paul Murphy took the time to reply to our letter, but sadly his response was not encouraging, saying under its own rules, the MEAA is unable to tell journalists how to report on issues.

“Under our rules, our organisation cannot issue any guide or direction to journalists about how they cover any issues, including this one,” Mr Murphy said.

“Under our rules we can only hear complaints with specific stories by journalists.” Mr Murphy did, however, direct us to the MEAA Code of Ethics
and its accompanying information on how to make a formal complaint should they be breached.

Given that many, if not most, anti-gun stories violate Article 1 (“Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis. Do your utmost to give a fair opportunity for reply”) and sometimes Article 4 (“Do not allow personal interest, or any belief, commitment, payment, gift or benefit, to undermine your accuracy, fairness or independence”.), and Article 1 (“Do your utmost to achieve fair correction of errors”), there are clear breaches of the Code there which can – and must – be reported to the MEAA and other relevant bodies.

We find it surprising the journalist’s own union is apparently unable to suggest to its members that, in the interests of professional standards, they take a moment to look at how they report on an issue affecting literally millions of Australians.

We’re not asking for journalists to love guns, just to report on them fairly and accurately.

We, both as an organisation and as law-abiding firearms users generally, are not extremists, we are not nutters, we are not calling for people to be able to do inherently problematic things like buy assault rifles over the counter with no licensing or background checks.

What we want is the same professional consideration given to reporting on firearms as is given to reporting on LGBTQ or Aboriginal or Feminist issues, or other issues where getting it wrong has the capacity to cause harm to a sector of the community.

In short: What we want is a fair go – and right now, we’re not getting it. Our offer to journalists, media, academics, and researchers stands – if you want factual information on Australia’s gun laws, or a factual explanation of how they work, or even just want to fact-check something – Shooters Union is here to help.

Reach out to us via e-mail (media@shootersunion.com.au), Facebook
(https://www.facebook.com/ShootersUnionOfAustralia/) or Twitter (@ShootersUnionAU; https://twitter.com/ShootersUnion) and we promise you will get a response.

We’re happy to go on the record with attribution from one of our spokespeople, or we’re happy to provide info on background or off the record. Your story doesn’t even have to be pro-gun; we just want to ensure that whatever you write is written with factual information and you’ve at least heard from knowledgeable people on the gun-knowledgeable side of the spectrum.

In the meantime, we’re asking our members and friends to keep an eye out for anti-gun reporting, and to lodge complaints regarding particularly egregious breaches of the MEAA Code of Practice in this area by mainstream media outlets.

Will it lead to an improvement in standards of reporting on firearms stories? We don’t know, but it will tell anti-gun journalists they can’t write whatever nonsense they like about millions of law-abiding Australians without those same Australians having something to say about it to their industry professional standards watchdogs.

In the meantime, have a look at our handy guide to “Top 10 Firearm Myths”, available here and containing factual information which you can use when discussion law-abiding firearms use in Australia

Toy gun ban LUDICROUS and must be rejected

MEDIA RELEASE

Calls to restrict toy guns in Queensland are ludicrous and represent a thought bubble that needs to be popped immediately, the country’s pre-eminent pro-firearms peak body says.

Police Minister Mark Ryan has stated he has raised the issue of restricting gel blasters – which are legally toys and incapable of hurting anyone – with the state’s Police Commissioner and said he understood the Queensland Police Service was considering if any regulations governing the items could be changed.

Shooters Union Australia has utterly rejected the idea the toys should be restricted, with president Graham Park pointing out they cannot fire real ammunition and cannot cause physical injury.

“They fire a small water-filled gel ball at low velocity with low force,” he said. “I’ve been shot with one at close range on purpose to test their effect and can tell you from personal experience they do not cause any pain whatsoever. It’s like being hit with a water gun.

“I’ve had sneezes which hurt more.”

Mr Park had no sympathy whatsoever for people who were scared by gel blaster’s resemblance to actual firearms and said it was not a reason to consider restricting or banning them or anything else.

“They’re just toys and they can’t actually hurt you,” he said. “Almost no-one in Queensland has a real M4 carbine or AK-47, so if you see what looks like an actual assault rifle outside a museum in the hands of anyone besides the police or military, it’s almost certainly a toy or replica – neither of which can hurt you.”

Since being declared toys in Queensland following a landmark court case last year, gel blasters have become hugely popular for paintball-like games, with a number of businesses springing up to support them.

“The reality is access to gel blasters has given tens of thousands of people the motivation to get outside and get with their friends and like-minded players,” Mr Park said.

“How can anyone possibly be against encouraging people to get active and socially involved, especially in this day and age?”

Shooters Union Australia is a leading peak body representing the more than one million lawful firearms users in Australia.

CONTACT DETAILS:
President Graham Park: president@shootersunion.com.au or 0418 700 320
Media Officer Royce Wilson: media@shootersunion.com.au or 0410 645 035

Reminder to Journalists regarding Darwin Shooting Incident

With reports of the multiple killings in Darwin, at least some of which involved a firearm, there is a real concern among Australia’s law-abiding firearm users that we are collectively about to get dragged through the mud once again through no fault of our own.

We at Shooters Union, as one of the country’s pre-eminent peak bodies for law-abiding shooters, would like to ask members of the Australian media to stop and give serious consideration to how they report on firearms-related events such as the one in Darwin, and the real harm negative firearms-related reporting does to the more than one million law-abiding shooters in our country.

Four deaths are tragic, no matter the circumstances surrounding them, and we are asking you as professional journalists to avoid sensationalist reporting and focus on the fact multiple serious crimes have occurred, including the deaths of a number of people.

Nearly everything in the situation as reported, including an unauthorised person with an illegal gun which had further been illegally modified, to the deaths of several people, appears to have broken existing laws in some form or another.

Pump-action shotguns have been effectively banned for most gun owners since 1996, and sawing off a shotgun is illegal, even more so if it shortens the gun below 75cm – when it becomes a handgun.

None of the literally dozens of laws already on the books stopped this event, and law-abiding firearms users were not involved or responsible for these reported events.

Please, reject thinkpieces from anti-gun writers using this as a platform to criticise Australia’s gun laws or make false claims they have been “watered down” in some way.

Please resist the urge to contribute to a media reporting climate of alarmism and sensationalism around firearms.

There are more than one million law-abiding firearms users in Australia and every time there is a shooting incident, our community gets pilloried for something we had nothing to do with and as appalled by as everyone else.

If you are after informed, knowledgeable information on Australia’s gun laws and how they work in a practical sense, we are only an e-mail away to media@shootersunion.com.au, or we can be reached via Facebook or on Twitter (@ShootersUnion)

Thank you.

More Shooters join the Union that fights for them

MORE and more shooters across Australia are signing up to Shooters Union, which has established itself as one of the pre-eminent peak bodies representing the interests of lawful firearms users across Australia.
New memberships are up more than 20 per cent year on year as more lawful firearms users from across the country lend their support to the pro-shooting organisation which is fighting on their behalf.

Shooters Union Australia president Graham Park said the membership increase, which represented a significant number of new members, was proof the organisation was continuing to go from strength to strength.

“We’ve really established ourselves as a proactive pro-shooting organisation,” Mr Park said. “We have a great team at Shooters Union HQ who have been doing some fantastic work, both publicly via social and traditional media and through industry and legislative consultation,
including with the government.”

“We have also committed to calling out extreme media bias when we find it, including making formal complaints to the relevant watchdogs when outlets run sensationalist anti-gun rubbish.”

Mr Park said as well as having strength in numbers, increasing membership numbers meant more funds were available for pro-shooting activities, including running pro-shooting paid advertisements, informing shooters of political issues that affect them, and making sure our message is being heard in the media and community.

Shooters Union membership is only $35 per year – less than a box of some popular centrefire rifle cartridges – and is a Genuine Reason for having a firearms licence in Queensland and New South Wales.

It is not exclusive, either – members can absolutely join Shooters Union while remaining a member of other shooting organisations or clubs as well, if they wish – and Shooters Union membership also includes complimentary $10m public liability insurance too.

For more information on Shooters Union membership, including how to join, visit our website here: https://shootersunion.com.au/benefits/