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Queensland

Letter to Dr Jeanette Young, Qld Chief Health Officer re closure of gun shops

Dr Jeanette Young
Queensland Chief Health Officer
Via E-mail

March 28, 2020

Dear Dr Young,

I write regarding the “Direction from Chief Health Officer in accordance with emergency powers arising from the declared public health emergency (No. 3)” issued by you March 27, 2020.

As part of this direction, “Licensed armourers and licensed dealers as defined under the Weapons Act 1990” are declared non-essential and ordered to close.

Why have you made this declaration, Dr Young? What public health risk do gun shops and armourers – businesses that are only patronised by people with firearms licences, who have undergone stringent background checks – pose in Queensland at present?

I remind you that under Queensland law, a person must have a firearms licence AND a valid Permit To Acquire issued by the police Weapons Licensing Branch before they can purchase a firearm. It is not possible for anyone – licensed or unlicensed – to walk into a gun shop, buy a gun, and immediately leave with it. A firearms licence is also required to purchase ammunition.

It is patently ridiculous that under your declaration farmers, hunters and other licensed firearms owners can no longer buy ammunition or spare parts – all of which are essential items for them – yet it is entirely possible for people to go to a major shopping centre and purchase such frivolities as scented candles, cheap costume jewellery, or decorative homewares.

Why is a candle shop or fashion jewellery store considered essential, yet a licensed firearms dealer is not?

Given the absurdity of this situation, and the uncertainty and ill-will this declaration is creating amongst Queenslanders – particularly the confusing rules regarding which businesses are “essential” (as the Government’s version clearly does not pass the pub test) – we formally request that you:

  1. Remove Licensed Armourers and Licensed Dealers (as defined under the Weapons Act 1990) from the ‘non-essential’ Declaration immediately; or
  2. Immediately declare ALL retail businesses which are not supermarkets, pharmacies, convenience stores, liquor outlets, petrol stations or similar to be “non-essential” and thus subject to closure under the Direction.

This is a serious and unprecedented situation and the Government must be seen to be acting on facts and evidence, not feelings, optics or political agenda.

The economic impacts of this decision will be severe for the state’s firearms industry, along with related industries – all of whom play a vital part in our state’s economy.

Being seen to treat all Queenslanders equally is critical at this time, and we suggest this Declaration does not reflect that.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Park

President, Shooters Union Australia

E: president@shootersunion.com.au | Ph: 0418 700 320

Letter to QLD Premier regarding firearms as an essential business

The Hon. Annastacia Palaszczuk

Premier of Queensland

Via E-mail to thepremier@premiers.qld.gov.au

March 28, 2020

Dear Ms Palaszczuk,

I write regarding the “Direction from Chief Health Officer in accordance with emergency powers arising from the declared public health emergency (No. 3)” issued by the state’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jeanette Young, at 10:43pm on March 27, 2020.

As part of this direction, “Licensed armourers and licensed dealers as defined under the Weapons Act 1990” were declared non-essential and ordered to close.

We say this declaration is clearly incorrect and on behalf of every law-abiding firearms user in Queensland, we formally request you declare licensed firearms dealers, armourers and other members of the firearms industry to be an Essential Business in Queensland.

Licensed firearms dealers and armourers provide an essential service to every single farmer, grazier, hunter, feral pest control and licensed firearms owner in Queensland. They supply ammunition needed to control pest animals in rural areas, and they supply the parts need to keep firearms operating.

It is patently ridiculous that right now, farmers, hunters and other licensed firearms owners can no longer buy essential ammunition or parts, yet people can to go to a major shopping centre and purchase completely non-essential items like decorative homewares or designer fashion.

It is clear the Government’s definition of an “essential business” does not pass the ‘pub test’ in this case and once again we request you rectify this and ensure the state’s firearms industry is officially classified as an Essential Business – because it is.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Park

President, Shooters Union Australia

E: president@shootersunion.com.au | Ph: 0418 700 320

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.

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

Weapons Licencing Verification System online now

WEAPONS Licensing Branch have launched a helpful new online tool which instantly provides a validity report on a Queensland firearms licence.

You can access the tool here

The online licence verification tool allows a user to enter a firearms licence number and expiry date, and will confirm if it is still valid or has been suspended.

While the new tool does not take the place of sighting a physical licence card, but should still prove useful for licensed gun dealers as well as regular shooters wanting to ensure a licensed friend is still properly authorised before lending them a firearm.

This is a step forward for Queensland and it is good to see WLB continuing to implement 21 st century technology in its firearms reporting systems.

Hunters Voices are too loud to ignore

IGNORE the voices of Queensland shooters and hunters at your peril come election time. That’s the message from Queensland shooting peak body
Shooters Union to the major parties following the closure of a hugely successful petition on the State Government website calling for a trial of hunting in State Forests.

More than 16,000 people signed the petition, which officially closed yesterday, and Shooters Union president Graham Park said it was a message too strong for the state government to ignore.

“This number of signatures this petition received confirms what we’ve been saying for a long time – hunting and the shooting sports have a massive amount of support in Queensland.

“The only e-petitions to receive more signatures in the past five years have related to abortion laws and daylight savings. This clearly shows that making our state forests available to licensed hunters is a massively important issue with a huge level of support – and potential votes, for a government smart enough to adopt it as an official policy.”

Hunters in Queensland can presently only shoot on privately owned land with landowner permission, and the aim of the petition is to open up some or all of the state’s 3m ha of state forests for conservation hunting of feral pests such as pigs, dogs, foxes, rabbits and deer.

Shooters Union has given its full support to the proposal to open State Forests up to conservation hunting, given the numerous economic and biosecurity benefits it offers.

New South Wales allows hunting in its State Forests, with the scheme generating $1.8b for the state in the 2017-18 financial year. Victoria also allows some hunting in its forests, with its programme bringing hundreds of millions of dollars per annum as well.

Much of the money comes from hunters and their families visiting rural areas, shopping at local businesses, and stocking up on things such as food, fuel, camping supplies and ammunition.

“What sort of government wants to leave potentially more than a billion dollars on the table? You’d have to be crazy to walk away from that sort of money,” Mr Park said.

“Given how much of Queensland has been devastated by drought or natural disaster, this is an ideal way to encourage people to visit our regional areas, boost their economies, and deal with their feral pest problems too.

“There are 200,000 licensed shooters in Queensland – not to mention tens of thousands more from interstate – who are going to be watching very closely how the government and major parties respond to this petition.”

Overcoming objections to Public Hunting in Queensland State Forests

AS Queensland’s pre-eminent shooting representative body, Shooters Union is throwing its complete support behind the current petition to trial conservation hunting in state forests. Click here to sign the petition’

We know there is still some uncertainty around why people, especially those who don’t hunt, should support and sign the petition, so we have taken a moment to clarify a few matters around this extremely important proposal, which has wide-ranging benefits not only for shooters but for
all of Queensland.

WON’T THIS PROPOSAL MEAN RANDOM PEOPLE WANDERING AROUND FORESTS WITH A GUN?

State forest hunters will still require a gun licence – a vigorous process administered by the Queensland Police Service involving background checks and criminal history checks – and it is envisioned they will also need to be a member of an accredited shooting organisation such as Shooters Union, the SSAA or the Australian Deer Association.

The NSW “R-licence” system requires hunters to undertake a theory course on ethical hunting and relevant laws, and it is envisioned the Queensland proposal would have similar requirements.

Not every state forest in Queensland would be made available for hunting either – for example, forests which are too close to houses, in active use by leaseholders, or too ecologically sensitive would not be available for hunting.

I DON’T WANT PEOPLE SHOOTING GUNS IN OUR NATIONAL PARKS!

They won’t be. The petition is purely about state forests in Queensland – there is no call to open national parks in the state up for hunting; they will remain exactly as they are now.

I AM A LANDOWNER AND DON’T WANT STRANGERS FROM THE CITY ON MY
PROPERTY SHOOTING THINGS

The petition is purely about opening state forests for hunting by properly licensed and accredited people. It will NOT allow hunters access to private property without permission from the landowner, and landowners will NOT be required to let shooters on their property if they do not want them there – exactly as the situation is now.

Supporting state forest hunting means you are potentially LESS likely to have illegal hunters trespassing on your land, as there will be a legal option for shooters to hunt in state forests instead.

BUT I ALREADY HAVE A PROPERTY TO HUNT ON

Lucky you! Most Queensland shooters do not, however, and do not know a farmer – or cannot regularly make a multi-day trip to the state’s rural areas for hunting trips. Supporting state forest hunting does not take away your ability to hunt on private property with land owner’s permission as you do now – but it means more people will be able to get involved in the shooting sports and experience the natural environment of our state too.

I ONLY SHOOT TARGETS – I DON’T HUNT

We are all shooters and even if you personally don’t hunt, it benefits the shooting sports as a whole to get as many people involved as possible.

Opening state forests up for hunting won’t affect your target shooting competitions, but will make a huge difference for all gun owners across the state – and make it an option for you if you decide to give it a go in the future as well.

I DON’T ACTUALLY WANT TO GO HUNTING

Signing the petition doesn’t obligate you to go hunting or indeed actually do anything beyond signing the petition – you are just saying that you, as a law-abiding shooter in Queensland would like the option to be there for any law-abiding shooter to hunt in state forests.

Remember hunters need the target shooters too – they’re the ones who ensure there are ranges for you to practice your shooting and load development at!

WHAT ABOUT BOW HUNTING?

Yes, bow hunting is included in the petition – it is about making state forests accessible to all hunters who can take game and pests humanely, not just shooters. Bow hunters would, however, need to be members of an accredited bow-hunting organisation and undertake the same
programme course as firearm hunters.

I DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW THE PROGRAMME WOULD WORK

The petition is about enacting a three year trial of conservation hunting – it’s not about debating the specifics. The idea is to get the green light to establish a programme, and at that point a formal programme can be developed with input from qualified and relevant stakeholders. The
data and information obtained from the trial will then enable an informed decision to be made about making state forest hunting a permanent programme in Queensland.

Air Rifles One Solution to Cane Toad Threat

A PROPOSAL by North Queensland MP Bob Katter to make air rifles more readily available and pay a 40c bounty per cane toad shot merits serious discussion, according to a prominent Australian shooting sports organisation.

Shooters Union Australia is calling for low-powered air rifles to be removed from firearm classification and licensing requirements and make them available for purchase by any adult who meets a basic eligibility test.
President Graham Park said Australia was the only first-world country which treats air rifles as actual firearms, and it was time for that to end.

“Even the UK, with its very strict gun laws, allows its citizens to buy low-powered air-guns over the counter and they’re not experiencing a wave of airgun-related shootings,” he said.

Air rifles, regardless of type, are considered Category A firearms – the same as a .22 bolt-action rifle or a double-barrelled shotgun – in all states of Australia and require a purchaser to obtain a firearms licence and Permit to Acquire before buying one, and must be stored in a locked gun
safe.

Depending on the purchaser’s state of residence, the process to buy their first air gun could potentially take up to six months and Mr Park said this was a ludicrous state of affairs, given that low-power air rifles were not a public safety risk and were totally incapable of killing a person.

“Air rifles are a great way to introduce youth to shooting – and it’s an outside activity, giving parents and kids a chance to do something together in their own back yard or at the range,” he said.

“Lots of us grew up knocking over soft drink cans in our back yard, or taking out pests like cane toads and mynah birds with a single-shot air-rifle.”

Cane Toads are a hugely invasive pest throughout parts of Australia, particularly Queensland, and Mr Park said a small bounty per cane toad would encourage people to keep their yards and properties clear of the biosecurity threat – and a cheap, over-the-counter air rifle would be not
only be a humane way to do it, it might open to door for the next generation of international- level competition shooters.

“Someone who gets a start as a youth with an air rifle today could end up being an Olympic shooting champion of tomorrow,” he said.

State Forest Hunting Petition Support

ANYONE who has spent any time outside the city knows feral animals are a huge problem in Queensland.

Rabbits, hares, foxes, wild dogs, kangaroos, deer and feral pigs – they are all at plague proportions and a constant threat to our farmer’s livelihoods, eating feed needed by cows, nibbling away on vegetables meant for your dinner table, digging up fences and generally causing havoc.

Queensland environmental scientist Daniel Boniface is hoping to change that via a petition on the state government website calling for a three year trial of hunting in Queensland’s state forests.

You can sign the petition here.

The petition only applies to state forests – there is no call to open national parks for hunting – and its purpose is to establish a three year trial to prove viability and gain data to enable a properly informed discussion about implementing the scheme permanently.

Unlike New South Wales and Victoria, which have successful state forest hunting schemes in place, Queensland currently refuses to allow this and is subsequently missing out on literally millions of dollars in potential economic benefits – not just from hunting licence fees, but from
the flow-on effects to rural communities from tourism, accommodation, fuel sales, food purchases and the like.

The Economic Impact of Recreational Hunting in New South Wales report commissioned by the NSW Department of Primary Industries in 2017 stated that hunting in the state’s forests had generated $119 million in gross revenue for the 2016-17 financial year.

A 2014 report from Victoria – Estimating the economic impact of hunting in Victoria in 2013 – stated the activity was worth an estimated $439 million to the state.

Shooters Union wholeheartedly supports this petition and we urge our members, supporters and friends to sign it if they have not already done so – the benefits of the proposal are countless and would make a huge difference to shooters, landowners and nature-lovers across the state.
There are an estimated 200,000 licensed shooters in Queensland, a huge number of whom would dearly love the opportunity to keep these pests under control – except they’re not allowed into the state forests where these animals breed.

Landowners across Queensland have been telling us this is a huge problem – even if they shoot the pests on their land, they are still breeding in state forests where hunters cannot reach them due to the existing laws.

City-based shooters are crying out for somewhere to hunt and not everyone has the luxury of owning a suitable property or having a friend or family member with access to one.

In addition to helping keep feral pests under control and give our struggling farmers and rural communities a much needed hand, it will allow an entire generation of shooters to experience and enjoy hunting in Queensland’s great outdoors. Better access to hunting areas means more licensed shooters which means a stronger voice when we speak in support of our sport – the benefits are countless and the downsides are non-existent.

Support your sport and protect our natural environment – sign the petition and support hunting in Queensland’s state forests!

Article written by Royce Wilson on behalf of Shooters Union Australia.

An open letter to Mark Ryan, Police Minister

Dear Minister,


On behalf of the more than 200,000 law abiding firearms owners in Queensland, Shooters Union Queensland has written this open letter to you to highlight the concerns of the firearms community that a recent statement by you in Parliament was both incorrect and misleading.

 

We are posting this letter on our website and social media sites as we appreciate how closely you monitor our website and Facebook page. All too often we see you refer to either our posts or videos, so thank you for taking the time follow our good work.

During Parliamentary Question Time on the 23rd August 2018 you said:

When it comes to gun laws here in Queensland one thing is for sure: our government has a strong commitment to never, ever weakening gun laws. We will never water down gun laws in Queensland. Where do those opposite stand? They stand for cutting red tape for firearms users and watering down gun laws. I say that you can never be tough on crime if you are soft on guns, and those opposite are soft on guns.”?

 

Our concern here is your conflation of the ideas of the ‘watering down of gun laws’ and the ‘cutting of red tape’ As law abiding gun owners we fully support all and any attempts to ensure that guns are kept from criminals and that those misusing guns are punished. However, not only is it simply wrong to equate the cutting of red tape with the watering down of gun laws, but in fact the cutting of red tape is a necessary step in ensuing that our gun laws work effectively to protect society.

 

Cutting red tape by reducing bureaucracy does not soften your position on the NFA or current Queensland firearms laws. By definition,red tape’ refers to excessive regulation or rigid conformity to formal rules that are considered redundant or bureaucratic and which hinders the achievement of the regulatory goals.

 

Contrary to your comments, the ‘cutting of red tape’ – redundant bureaucratic processes – may in fact assist in making our firearms laws more effective. First, by removing excessive regulation and bureaucratic processes, you are able to free up scarce policing resources to bolster front line policing and the prevention and detection of criminal behaviour. This is surely a more effective use of police resources than the form filling and paper shuffling that characterises our current firearm’s regime. Secondly, by cutting away the distraction of redundant bureaucratic processes, we can focus more clearly on the real concerns of the criminal importation and use of guns. The central regulatory goal of any gun laws must be to ensure that firearms are not used to harm others or to perpetrate crime. It is difficult, if not impossible, to see how that goal is furthered by heaping more and more red tape on licensed firearms users – requiring more of licensed firearms users does not stop criminals!


The second part of your comment is equally baffling. You suggest that reducing red tape in relation to licensed firearms and law abiding firearms owners means you are going soft on crime. But there is surely no connection whatsoever. If Queensland criminals were willing to obtain firearms licences and to use only regeared firearms in their criminal ventures, then one might see a connection. But, alas, criminals will be criminals and no matter how tough our gun laws are, they have no bearing whatsoever on the criminal use of guns.  Shooters Union has advocated strongly for tougher laws that do in fact address the criminal use of guns – it is embarrassing for Queensland that the penalty for the theft of a television is the same as for the theft of a firearm. If your Government really wanted to get tough on crime it would address this anomaly.

 

Some may be tempted to suggest that the piling of red tape and restrictions on licensed firearms owners is a way to stop guns getting into the hands of criminals, who steal firearmsform licensed and law abiding owners. As you noted in February this year, the theft of guns in Queensland has decreased significantly in recent years. Moreover, data produced by the Federal government’s Australian Institute of Criminology has shown conclusively that the major source of guns used by criminals is not licensed firearms owners. Increasing regulation of licensed firearms owners will not stop criminals getting guns, and cutting red tape will not make it easier for criminals to get guns.


The use by criminals of guns is a blight on our society and the firearms community strongly support all and any efforts to address this problem. However, we feel that your comments misunderstand the real nature of the problem and that by focusing on more red tape you may, inadvertently, be making life easier for criminals.