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Tasmania’s gun laws will be examined by a Legislative Council committee

Legislative Council Independent member Ivan Dean (a former senior Policer Officer) is heading up a parliamentary inquiry into gun laws in Tasmania. It’s expected to be put into motion in the next month, but not imminent. The Police Minister said he was sure a submission from the Shooters Union would be most welcomed and thought the Union could be a witness for the inquiry.

The Legislative Council has agreed to set up an inquiry to look at changes to Tasmania’s gun laws.

Windermere MLC Ivan Dean successfully moved 10 votes to four for the inquiry when the Legislative Council sat for the first time this year.

On the eve of the March 5 state election, the Liberal Party proposed to double the duration of gun licenses to 10 years and make weapons such as pump-action shotguns more readily available.

Mr Dean told the council gun laws “impact a lot of people.”

“It is an emotional issue,” he said.

“Port Arthur was the greatest tragedy in this state and this country and it remains raw for many people.

“It haunts us for the rest of our lives.”

Mr Dean said he hoped the inquiry would be dealt with expeditiously but not rushed and would be completed by the end of the year.

Murchison MLC Ruth Forrest opposed the inquiry arguing it should be the government who should come up with any changes.

“Some of the changes they want are sensible but they should have happened in the last term of this government,” Ms Forrest said.

“What do the government want to do and how do they want to do it?

“They should be consulting and putting out a policy position.”

Leader of the government Leonie Hiscutt said the government supported the inquiry.

“I am a tradie and well qualified to look out for the best interests of farmers,” Ms Hiscutt said.

She will serve on the committee with Mr Dean as chair and members Robert Armstrong, Mike Gaffney, Tania Rattray and Joanna Siejka.

Meanwhile, Police Minister Michael Ferguson welcomed the Legislative Council’s inquiry into proposed changes to firearms laws.

“We understand this is an emotive issue for all Tasmanians and we are therefore very committed to engaging in extensive consultation before legislation is tabled,” Mr Ferguson said.

Written by Sue Bailey Article first appeared on the Examiner Website: https://www.examiner.com.au/story/5423231/gun-law-committee-set-up/?cs=95 22/5/18 at 5:14pm.

Shooters Union Tasmania and Victoria ramp up.

Shooters Union are pleased to announce that firearm owners will soon have a Tasmanian and Victorian branch. Such a move has been a lengthy and time consuming one but SU believes their expansion into the south eastern states will herald more positive gun law changes in the near future for all firearms owners. Shooters Union’s Senior Media Manager met with the Tasmanian premier Will Hodgman over the weekend to discuss the presence of the new branches. SU hopes this will reinforce a positive working relationship with the premiers of both states
and will put us back on track to common sense gun laws once again.

Gun Control Australia’s untruths

Response from Shooters Union President, Graham Park…

“Roland, Roland, Roland. Oh, Roland.

Another day, another disaster for Gun Control Australia. Back in 2013 you were invited to provide advice to the Tasmanian Police Minister.

You declined.

2013 – Gun Control Australia spokesman Roland Browne says “he had considered joining the committee until he found out about confidentiality agreements. “I wasn’t prepared to tie myself in to confidentiality clauses as an advocate for gun control, it would be a conflict of interest,” he said https://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/concerns-over-shooter-domination-of-firearm-advisory-committee/news-story/55ef7ab8dbac0184fb1b4be9533b47a5

Now you dare feign ignorance to the existence of the consultation group.

2018 – Roland Browne says about the same committee “he had not been aware the state had a firearms consultation group before the letter surfaced. He said the group was not mentioned in the state’s gun laws.” https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/mar/02/tasmanian-liberal-government-promises-to-soften-gun-laws

Reminds us of two popular sayings: ‘You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.”

and

“The internet is forever.'”

Tasmanian Liberal government promises to soften gun laws

Changes include doubling gun licence durations and abolishing mandatory removal of weapons for minor storage breaches.

The Tasmanian Liberal government has quietly promised shooters it plans changes to soften the state’s gun laws that would put it at odds with an updated National Firearms Agreement released last year.

The commitments, made in a letter to a firearms consultation group on 9 February but not posted on the party’s website, include extending the limit on gun licence duration from five to 10 years and abolishing mandatory weapon removal for minor breaches of firearm storage laws.

In the letter, police minister, Rene Hidding, said the government would also consider introducing a new firearms category covering all banned guns – to be known as Category E – that would allow “certain specialists” to use them.

Some farmers would be allowed to use silencers on guns used to protect their crops, and the state would ask the national Council of Police Ministers to consider expanding access to Category C firearms to allow a greater range of sporting shooters to use pump-action and rapid-fire shotguns.

Shooting and farming groups said the changes were modest and common sense. Gun control advocates said they were reckless and astonishing, particularly given how strongly the Liberal party had responded after 35 people were killed in the 1996 Port Arthur massacre.

Roland Browne, the Hobart-based vice-chairman of Gun Control Australia, said the planned changes were in clear breach of the national firearms agreement endorsed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in February last year.

The agreement says a firearms licence must be issued for no more than five years, and that the states agreed failing to properly store firearms was an offence that would lead to the cancellation of the licence and confiscation of all firearms.

“The Liberal party has been deceptive,” Browne said.

“Their proposal to walk away from parts of the (agreement) is appalling. They have been caught out trying to pander to an industry group.”

The letter was posted by the government on Friday. In a written statement, Hidding said it was a strong supporter of Australia’s national gun laws, and nothing in its policy would put them at risk.

“I want to be clear, we won’t do anything which is inconsistent with the National Firearms Agreement,” he wrote.

“This policy is aimed at helping agricultural producers, particularly farmers, to protect crops from browsing animals and other pests. Farmers often suffer up to 30% crop losses.”

Premier Will Hodgman told ABC Radio that the policy was about finding an appropriate balance, and Hidding had advised him the policy was not in contravention of the national firearms agreement.

“The intent here is to support our farmers, to allow them to do their job, and to do nothing, I’m told, that is inconsistent with the national firearms agreement or indeed to relax laws that would pose a risk to our society,” he said.

Asked why the policy had not been posted on the party’s website, Hodgman said the government had released more than 170 policies, and that some were of particular interest to certain groups and had been released directly to them.

Labor leader Rebecca White said the government’s plan was reckless and dishonest. She said the ALP’s firearms policy agreed that infringement notices should replace summons notices for minor breaches of firearm storage regulations, but rejected the government’s other proposed changes.

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“If the Liberals wanted to change these laws they should have treated Tasmanians with respect and been upfront with them. Instead, they tried to quietly appease the pro-guns lobby,” she said.

Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association chief executive Peter Skillern said the proposed changes had been discussed by the firearms consultation group for two years and the government had supported most of them.

He said they included elements that would simply bring Tasmania into line with other states. Suggestions that they were watering down gun laws was a “gross exaggeration”.

“Firearms are a tool of trade in the agricultural sector and these suggested changes are a recognition of that,” he said.

“There is nothing here to say that if you do not store your firearms properly that penalties do not apply. There is nothing in these proposals that would in any shape or form diminish community safety.”

Greens candidate for the mostly rural seat of Lyons, Fraser Brindley, said the plan would lead to more semi-automatic weapons in the community and the introduction of silencers, putting Tasmanians at risk. “If Rene Hidding and the Liberals are so proud of this dangerous policy, why hide it?”

Browne said he had not been aware the state had a firearms consultation group before the letter surfaced. He said the group was not mentioned in the state’s gun laws.

He said the promise to water down the laws was astonishing given the government tightened gun laws just two months earlier, requiring greater security over how firearms were stored, including all owners with 10 or more guns to install an electronic alarm.

Sporting Shooters Association president Andrew Judd told the Australian current restrictions prevented sportsmen from entering some global rifle competitions.

Independent polling released on Tuesday suggested the Liberals were best placed to win Saturday’s election, with 46% support ahead of Labor on 34% and the Greens on 12%.

Article written by Adam Morton for The Guardian. Read the original article here. https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/mar/02/tasmanian-liberal-government-promises-to-soften-gun-laws

Important: Check your gun storage complies…

Here’s a little trap for the unwary. A handgun licence holder has advised us he was recently broken into and his firearms, 13 rifles and 4 pistols, stolen. He was storing all of his firearms in a safe weighing 410 kg bare, not bolted down because he considered the weight of the safe to be sufficient in itself, according to the Weapons Act. Not so.

The legal requirements are spelled out in the Weapons Act Regulation 2016, sections 94 to 97.

The relevant bits state:
(2) A person who possesses a weapon must, when the weapon is not in the person’s physical possession, store it unloaded in a locked container complying with subsections (5) and (6), with the weapon’s bolt removed or its action broken.

There are further requirements if you have 31 or more firearms – please contact us for more details

So for handguns, regardless of the weight of the safe, it must be made of solid steel and bolted down.

It apparently doesn’t matter that this bloke’s house was ruined to get the safe out and that the owner’s tools were broken by the thieves. Two were caught and have been sentenced. The victim however, has now been charged with insecure storage. If convicted, he will lose his licence for a
minimum of 5 years and he would then have to dispose of his firearms.

The lesson: know the legislation relating to storage of your firearms and make sure you comply. Being a victim of a crime is no bar to being charged yourself under Queensland legislation.

Shooters Union continues to fight against legislation that makes criminals out of victims. Whilst we have some success in that endeavour, what’s now in legislation is what we have to obey, no matter how unfair we consider it to be. The consequences of the victim of a theft being convicted of
insecure storage are far greater than the cost of the stolen firearms themselves. Be warned!

Talking Point: Gun law reform soft on crime, hard on owners

WHEN someone proposes a solution to a problem that does not exist, you can suspect they have an agenda.

The recent mail-out to Tasmania’s 38,000 shooters about the storage of firearms requirements fall into this category. Last year, the Department of Police, Fire and Emergency Management released the regulatory impact statement and draft regulations about the changes.

The impact statement has omissions and deficiencies. It does not provide the number of crimes committed with a stolen firearm nor how many gun-owner residences have been burgled without the gun safe being breached nor whether murders have been committed with stolen firearms. This data is needed to establish there is a problem.

Last year, there were 61 instances of firearms stolen from safes. The impact statement says there are on average 200 firearms a year stolen in Tasmania. There are about 130,000 registered firearms, making the percentage stolen 0.15. This is hardly a crisis.

The statement suggests it is fair that gun owners cough up up to $12.5 million in order to be forced to upgrade storage. It justifies this by quoting 2011 Australian Institute of Criminology report, Counting the Cost of Crime, where it was claimed every homicide cost the community $2.7 million. This is grasping at straws since the report makes no mention of firearms. It only mentions homicides, manslaughter and death by culpable driving.

All premature deaths cost the community. The Royal Lifesaving Association recorded 280 drownings last year and put the cost at $1 billion. This is $1 billion more than stolen firearm deaths cost the community.

Perhaps we need to look at disbanding the Firearms Registry. Due to lack of information in the impact statement, I put in a Right to Information application, which resulted in discovering that the registry cost taxpayers $1.3 million last year. Despite this, Tasmania Police was unable to tell me how many stolen firearms were used in hold-ups, wounding or murder nor was it able to data match firearm-owner residences with burglaries. At no time has information from any Australian registry been pivotal in solving any crime.

It is time to disband the registry as New Zealand and Canada have.

Police are powerless to prevent the theft of ATMs with sophisticated security so why would the proposed measures stop firearm thefts?

At no stage in the impact statement is there mention of increasing penalties for theft, possession, or using stolen firearms in the commission of a crime. This demonstrates that police have more of a problem with legitimate firearm ownership than criminals. Firearm owners who don’t have conforming storage will be slugged more to comply than the penalties for convicted firearms thieves.

If parliament is considering making dangerous driving an indictable offence, why isn’t firearm theft being considered since police imply it has the same level of risk?

If you divide 61 breached gun safes by 200 stolen firearms, it becomes apparent that on average these thefts are netting only about three items per burglary. Despite this, the target range of this proposal for electronic surveillance or alarms is 10 or more firearms. It does not take a genius to work out this will eventually become standard for even one long arm. The original proposal was for mandatory increased security where there were 15 or more long arms and/or one handgun. It is already down to 10 or more firearms.

These changes are soft on crime but harsh on law-abiding citizens.

Any firearm owner finding themselves out of pocket as well as other taxpayers should ask their elected representative how much it cost to post out the new requirements to 38,000 shooters. How much will it cost in police man-hours to inspect 38,000 safes? How many man-hours for the back-up inspections to confirm compliance?

Carlo Di Falco is a target shooter, hunter, collector and member of the Shooters and Fishers Party.

Article written by Carlo Di Falco for the Mercury newspaper. Published online 17/6/17 at 12:00am. Article link: https://www.themercury.com.au/news/opinion/talking-point-gun-law-reform-soft-on-crime-hard-on-owners/news-story/c2d5124b3718a58ef8880503e22f0be6

Tasmania Shooters and Fishers slam gun storage changes

Changes to firearms storage in Tasmania will not reduce crime, according to the Tasmanian Shooters and Fishers Party.

Members of the party have spoken out against the changes, which are expected to come into effect in December.

SFP Tasmania committee member Matthew Allen said the new regulations would “unfairly place further costly restrictions on law abiding firearm owners with no positive outcome”.

“There is simply no compelling reason and certainly no supporting evidence to justify this change in storage requirements,” Mr Allen said.

One change under the new regulations is a minimum metal thickness of 2 millimetres for safes containing Category A or B firearms.

For Category C, D and H firearms, the safe must be at least 3 millimetres thick.

“There is simply no justification to place further restrictions on law abiding citizens,” Mr Allen said.

“What is urgently required are tougher penalties for firearm theft and crimes committed with a firearm, not the continual tightening of regulatory requirements which appear as an attack on law abiding firearm owners who are among the most closely scrutinized and “police checked” members of our community.

“Surely it is well past time to introduce legislation to ensure that the theft of a firearm and/or its components is made an indictable criminal offence and not simply property theft.”

Police Minister Rene Hidding said the reforms were “designed to help” gun owners.

“We have consulted extensively with the community on these changes, including delaying the finalisation of the regulations to allow time for additional feedback,” he said.

“Many of these amendments received broad support from the firearms-owning community and have been phased in to allow plenty of time for firearm owners to comply.”

Will the changes affect you?

Article written by Melissa Mobbs for the Tasmanian Examiner. Article was first posted: https://www.examiner.com.au/story/4726356/shooters-slam-storage-changes-poll/

Submission on Draft Firearms Regulations 2017 (Tasmania)

1. Introduction

1.1 The purpose of this document is to provide comment and information in relation to the Draft Firearms Amendment Regulations 2017 as it applies to Shooters Union members in Tasmania.

1.2 Author – Jan Linsley, Shooters Union Australia Inc

2. Intended Audience

Legislation Development Review Services, Tasmanian Police The Honourable Rene Hidding – Minister for Police and Emergency Management.
Members and Branches Shooters Union Australia Inc

3. Authority to comment

3.1 Shooters Union Australia Inc was formed consequent to the formation of Shooters Union organisations in several states, the first of which was Queensland in 2005. SUA has several branches and individual members in all states, including Tasmania.

3.2 The Shooters Union movement has grown rapidly and is now one of the largest shooting organisations in Australia.

3.3 Shooters Union has been represented at several intrastate advisory groups over recent years.

4. Background

4.1 The objectives of the proposed regulations, as outlined in the Regulatory Impact Statement, do not provide evidence of the need for change of existing regulation, apart from the fact that the existing storage requirements are the same as they were 20 years ago. If no quantifiable and credible benefit can be provided, then change for the sake of change is no reason at all.

4.2 The Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) provides a chart which shows that firearm thefts have risen over the last 10 years and provides an average of 200 firearms a year. There is no source reference in the chart or in the statement. It is interesting to note that the report talks principally about the number of firearms stolen, not the number of thefts. When other items are stolen, eg jewellery, statements are made as to the value of the theft (which is counted as one theft), rather than a catalogue of how many rings, how many necklaces, how many watches etc. In the case of
jewellery, it is recognised that if someone gains access to a source of jewellery, all of the jewellery that is in that source will be stolen. That’s one theft. If a thief gains access to a source of firearms, each individual firearm is considered to be one theft when in fact, like jewellery thefts, all the firearms at the source are likely to be stolen when access is attained. This is particularly evident when the RIS states that there were 125 firearms stolen in 2006-2007, increasing to 260 stolen in 2015-2016.

The RIS makes the case that the increase of stolen firearms in the past 10 years in unacceptable. However no information is provided to relate the increase in the number of firearms held by licensees to the increase in the number of stolen firearms. We would suggest that the number of firearms held has increased as it has in other states, so by what percentage in relation to that has the number of thefts increased?

The graph provided indicates that in most years, there were more firearm theft incidents than there were firearms stolen. One can only assume that most years, there are quite a number of unsuccessful firearm thefts ………

4.3 There is no information provided to say how many thefts were from metal or timber storage facilities not now considered adequate. It is difficult therefore to see why it is considered necessary to legislate on thickness and material for firearms storage. Research presented to the Senate Inquiry in 2014 indicated that most firearms were stolen from police and security.

4.4 The often stated problem of stolen firearms being used in criminal offences is not borne out by the facts. Almost all stolen firearms are never recovered and not used in crime either. They are largely resold to people who (apart from their willingness to purchase an unregistered firearm) are not normally criminal and certainly not violent. Less than 1% of firearms stolen in a year will be used in a crime or associated with an offence. There is no evidence of a link between stolen firearms and crime.

The Australian Institute of Criminology states: “Very few stolen firearms are known to have been used to commit a subsequent criminal event or found in the possession of persons charged with other serious offences, eg supply of a prohibited drug.”

The Herald Sun reported in 2013, that police suspected that 25 major shipments of firearms not detected by Customs, had been imported into Australia illegally over the previous years. It was further reported that magazines and speedloaders were discovered by Customs officers acting on a police tip off, but that about 20 similar packages had been successfully imported.
Customs reports that the sheer volume of international mail makes it difficult to detect illegal imports without other intelligence. Likewise only a very small proportion of containers are inspected.
4.5 As stated in the RIS, most metal gun safes will comply with the proposed requirements, but we ask how many non-compliant storage facilities have been the subject of a theft of firearms? The figures quoted of an average of $300 per licence holder is based on invalid assumptions. If there are figures on how many safes are currently not compliant, they are not provided. Without this information and information on how many firearms each non-compliant licence holder has, the estimate of $300 per licence holder is completely meaningless. It also ignores the
fact that a $300 safe is probably the minimum price for a safe which holds a minimum of firearms. We could just as well estimate that non-compliant storage may reduce the number of firearm thefts because they don’t look like gun safes and therefore may be overlooked by thieves not recognising the contents from outward appearance.

4.6 The proposal to regulate the thickness of metal for storage of ammunition is a massive cost impost, likely to affect ALL licence holders. There is no evidence presented to support a view that current ammunition storage requirements are not adequate. There is no evidence at all about theft of ammunition from existing storage. What is the size of this problem that the legislation seeks to address? Is it, in fact, a problem now?

4.7 The RIS talks about “community expectations”. Never have we seen any evidence of what community expectations are. Nor is there any evidence provided in the RIS. The phrase is nebulous at best and deliberately misleading at worst. 4.8 The RIS informs us that of 61 firearm theft incidents in Tasmania in 2015-2016 where the firearms were stored in a safe, on 13 occasions the whole safe was removed, which resulted in the theft of 50 firearms. All of those occasions would have involved time, effort and noise, which indicates that the owners were probably not home at the time of the theft. It also indicates that those storage facilities were secure. If the safes had been bolted down, it would seem that they may not have been stolen, but that of course, is impossible to know. It may well be dependent on how long the owner was away, whether there were neighbours or whether the safes were stolen from rural locations with no interruptions and little chance of detection.

4.9 It is reasonable to require that firearms storage be bolted down. Two bolts instead of one is not a great impost, however bolting to both floor and wall would seem to be unnecessary and very possibly counterproductive. Take for example, the case of a pistol safe. These are smaller and better mounted on a wall, rather than the floor. This requirement would make mounting at eye level illegal. Take also the case where safes are installed in unlined sheds or other outbuildings. A quick circuit of the shed by a thief would clearly indicate the likelihood of a gun safe bolted through the wall which may be otherwise undetected and ignored in favour of a break-in to the house. We would recommend bolted to either floor or wall with two bolts as being a practical and reasonable requirement.

4.10 Safes weighing more than 150 kg when empty would be the exception rather than the rule. Most safes are less than that.

4.11 The requirement for alarms and video surveillance is not practical. Companies which monitor alarm systems ring the owner when the alarm goes off. They do not ring the Police and are usually legally prevented from doing so, probably because of the incidents of false alarms (ie power failures, animals setting them off etc). Remote monitoring of the alarm therefore simply means that the owner is notified, however the system itself can be set up to immediately notify the owner. Since most thefts are from unattended premises, notification to the owner will prompt him
to notify police, who won’t respond because of a lack of evidence to indicate a real theft is occurring. Likewise an audible alarm is only as good as the ability to respond. Where a rural property is involved, there will be no response and nobody to hear the alarm. If there is someone available when an alarm goes off, how is that person to do anything about the theft without endangering himself? The availability of capable systems which start at around $300 does not give any indication of final installation costs, which would more than double that cost and be applicable to nearly every licence holder. Where is the evidence that a monitored or audible alarm can justify the enormous cost impost on licensed firearms owners? Where is the evidence that firearm thefts
in Tasmania result in increased criminal activity with the use of stolen firearms when the Institute of Criminology states that ” Very few stolen firearms are known to have been used to commit a subsequent criminal event or found in the possession of persons charged with other serious offences, eg supply of a prohibited drug”.

In the case of thefts from alarmed premises, only one of 76 thefts resulted in recovery of the firearms and that recovery resulted from video surveillance, not from the alarm itself. To require such a cost impost on firearm owners to achieve only one success is not a realistic expectation. Further, the provision of alarms and surveillance equipment did not prevent the theft. Who answered the alarm? From the information provided, nobody did. If the thieves had been masked, how would video surveillance have provided a solution? If all firearm licensees are required to have expensive video surveillance, you can be sure that thieves would commensurately increase their means of personal de-identification.

4.12 We note in the RIS in relation to Cost of Alternative Options, that implementing greater storage requirements “would result in higher costs to existing and new firearm owners (without specific proposals it is not possible to calculate any difference in costs), but the increased cost is not expected to result in firearm theft prevention and community safety increases proportionate to that increased costs”. Where is the evidence that these proposals will?

4.13 The Benefits of Change indicate that “the proposed changes should be a reduction in the number of firearms stolen, albeit forecasting the difference in numbers is not possible. This will reduce criminal possession and use of firearms, which in turn will contribute to fewer serious crimes involving firearms…..” The evidence from the Senate Inquiry is that most firearms falling into criminal hands do so by illegal importation. Customs itself reports “….that the sheer volume of international mail makes it difficult to detect illegal imports without other intelligence. Likewise only a very small proportion of containers are inspected.”

Targeting licensed shooters will not retrieve firearms that are currently outside the licensing and registration systems. It would seem therefore, that allocating more resources to Customs would be more likely to address the problem of criminal misuse of firearms.

4.14 Better policing would be more beneficial. What are Tasmanian police doing about the increasing theft of firearms? How are they responding to reports of theft? The draft changes to legislation as presented will mean that the victim of theft is more likely to be charged than the thief. This legislation provides enormous scope for just that reaction from police and evidence from other states indicates that charging the victim is the first response. Are Tasmanian police any different?

4.15 To state there would be no impact on competition by compliance with the new requirements ignores completely the costs of participation in competition and the significant impact the increased costs of compliance would have on virtually all competition shooters. Few shooters compete with only one or two firearms.

4.16 The RIS rightly acknowledges that “…..it is not possible to accurately forecast what the change in number (of thefts) will be”. Why then, have these proposals advanced to the draft stage when there is no evidence of benefit? All of the purported benefits are speculative and not evidence based.

4.17 The chart provided in relation to unlawful homicide gives no indication of how many of those homicides were committed using firearms stolen from firearms licence holders. In fact, it is probably not possible to even know. Why then is this erroneous information included in the RIS? It is deliberately misleading. The conclusion that the cost to licence holders will be much less than the cost of each homicide is completely invalid because there is no evidence that homicides will reduce at all. Further, the costs to the community are hidden in taxation, policing, compliance and other costs (ie indirect costs). The costs of compliance with this legislation are direct costs on a group of already proven responsible, legitimate, law abiding members of the community. It is unreasonable and irresponsible to indicate that the costs of homicide and theft should be borne by such individuals, particularly considering the poorly researched, erroneous and demonstrably false statements provided in the RIS. Further, the RIS quotes the Australian Institute of Criminology’s 2011 report: Counting the Cost of Crime. However the figures quoted are for the whole of Australia. If figures are not available for Tasmania only, then quoting this report is deliberately misleading.

5. Recommendations

5.1 That the requirements in relation to safes be implemented for all NEW safes. No retrospective application. In time, the requirements would be implemented with no additional costs to existing licence holders.

5.2 Any retrospective requirements to be funded by the Tasmanian government.

5.3 That all safes be bolted (twice) to the floor or wall.

5.4 Remove the requirement for alarms and video surveillance from individual licence holders unless the Tasmanian government is prepared to pay for them. The requirement for these items is a large cost impost for no quantifiable benefit.

5.5 Transfer firearms licensing to an entity other than police so that more positive policing time can be allocated to theft prevention and recovery.

5.6 Introduce a crime with substantial penalties of theft of a firearm.

5.7 Consider the promotion of the most effective deterrent in prevention of a home invasion: a pet dog. Tasmanian police could liaise with local Councils and the RSPCA to promote access to suitable pets. Since police around Australia already have dog squads, there is clear evidence that they see a benefit.

6. Conclusion

We are disappointed that the Regulatory Impact Statement is so lacking in quantifiable evidence, is speculative and misleading. Since the regulatory changes relate to the Act itself, it is clear that the Act has been introduced likewise without any evidence of a need for change and without any benefit being either properly investigated or supported by evidence or assessment.

Since theft is already illegal, no amount of added legislation will have any impact on the criminal activity. All we can therefore do when proposing or supporting legislation is to ensure that security is as rigorous and financially beneficial as possible. These proposals do nothing to realistically ensure security and in fact, will only provide police with innocent scapegoats, ie licensed firearm owners. None of the amendments in this draft address the criminal misuse of firearms. All they do is legislate more onerous and demonstrably ineffective security measures for the already law abiding firearm owner, who is not the problem. The legislation affects only licensees and creates an environment where the victim of theft will be charged with a minor offence because it is easier to convict the victim than it is to pursue and prosecute the thief. The only provision that we can support is the requirement to bolt safes down and even there, we suggest a modification
for practical purposes.

We ask that Tasmania takes the lead in introducing provisions that have demonstrable, quantifiable benefit with particular reference to cost benefit, and support legitimate licence
holders rather than creating criminals from victims!
Jan Linsley
Shooters Union Australia Inc
17/12/16

Submission on Review of the Firearms Act 1996 – Schedule 1 (Tasmania)

1. Introduction

1.1 The purpose of this document is to provide comment and information in relation to the review of Schedule 1 as it applies to Shooters Union members in Tasmania.

1.2 Author – Jan Linsley, Shooters Union Australia Inc

2. Intended Audience

Firearms Services -Tasmanian Police
The Honourable Marinus Hidding – Minister for Police and Emergency Management.
Members and Branches Shooters Union Australia Inc

3. Authority to comment

3.1 Shooters Union Australia Inc was formed consequent to the formation of Shooters Union organisations in several states, the first of which was Queensland in 2005. SUA has several branches  and individual members in all states, including Tasmania.

3.2 The Shooters Union movement has grown rapidly and is now one of the largest shooting organisations in Australia.

3.3 Shooters Union has been represented at several advisory groups over recent years.

4. Background

4.1 The National Firearms Agreement was passed in 1996 as a direct result of the Port Arthur Massacre, with the clear intention to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence of such an incident, and to reduce the rate of violence associated with firearm usage. While there are contrary research reviews on the effectiveness of these laws, we consider this intention to be the first principle of the agreement, and that laws introduced or amended under this agreement should address this principle.

4.2 We note comments from Doug Rossiter, Acting Commander, Tasmania Police Service, that the current review is not to debate the “rationale and/or principles underpinning the legislation, nor whether the legislation should be amended or other such matters.

4.3 We note a request for review instead on whether the guide (Guide to Schedule 1(6) of the Firearms Act 1996 (prohibited Firearms)) makes sense, can be easily understood and addresses the relevant issues relating to how Schedule 1 (6) operates.

4.4 We note also that: it is acknowledged that some firearms may have been incorrectly registered in the past due to applications for permits and registration being in writing with no reference to an image or physical inspection and a lack of awareness in respect to the appearance of certain firearms. Where errors have been made it has been where firearms have been categorised according to their type, calibre and manner of operation and not appearance.

4.4 The impetus for this review is stated: “As a result of the Martin Place siege review States and Territories’ police services agreed to conduct an audit of their firearms data holdings to ensure their data holdings relating to registered firearms is accurate and firearms have been registered in line with State legislation.”

4.5 We note the Guide to Schedule 1(6) of the Firearms Act 1996 (Prohibited Firearms) – Firearms Act 1996 – Schedule 1
The following firearms are prohibited firearms:

  1. Any machine gun, submachine gun or other firearm capable of propelling projectiles in rapid succession during one pressure of the trigger
  2. Any self-loading rim-fire rifle.
  3. Any self-loading centre-fire rifle.
  4. Any self-loading shotgun
  5. Any pump action shotgun.
  6. Any firearm that substantially duplicates in appearance a firearm referred to in item 1 (our emphasis added).
  7. Any firearm to which there is attached any article or device capable of muffling, reducing or stopping the noise created by firing the firearm.
  8. A pistol that is of a reduced or an abridged size.
  9. Any firearm or part of a firearm which has a dimension less than the prescribed minimum dimension.
  10. A prohibited pistol
  11. Any ex-military firearm that is a firearm in relation to which a firearm licence may not be issued.
  12. Any ordnance

4.6 We note the particular reference to Item (6)

4.7 Finally, we note the examples provided.

5. Comment

5.1 The Recommendations on firearms from the Martin Place Siege report are:

6. The Commonwealth, States and Territories should simplify the regulation of the legal firearms market through an update of the technical elements of the National Firearms Agreement. (our emphasis added)
7. CrimTrac, in cooperation with Commonwealth and State Police and law enforcement agencies, should prioritise bringing the National Firearms Interface into operation by the end of 2015.
8. States and Territories’ police forces should conduct an urgent audit of their firearms data holdings before the National Firearms Interface is operational where this has not already occurred.
9. The Commonwealth and the States and Territories should give further consideration to measures to deal with illegal firearms.

5.2 It appears that Item 6 of the recommendations has been ignored in the current review. We do not believe that categorising a firearm according to its appearance simplifies the regulation of firearms – far from it. Instead it adds a degree of unnecessary subjectivity. What is ‘substantial’? Who will decide how substantial a similarity is one component of a firearm design? And how does this meet the first principleof the National Firearm Agreement?

5.3 Schedule 1, item 1 of the Guide refers specifically to machine guns, submachine guns or other firearms capable of propelling projectiles in rapid succession during one pressure of the trigger. We understand that these firearms are severely restricted in all states as a result of the 1996 National Firearms Agreement. In order to meet the intention of the agreement, the National Firearms Agreement categorised firearms according to their type, calibre and manner of operation, not their appearance.

5.4 Schedule 1, item 6 of the Guide refers to any firearm that substantially duplicates in appearance a firearm referred to in item 1. However, the guide highlights minor, not substantial, aspects of firearm design such as the structure of the stock.These are clear examples of retrospectively adding subjectivity to the firearm regulation, adding complexity to the regulation, and failing to meet the intention of the National Firearms Agreement.

5.5 As a comparison, Queensland legislation (relating to this particular issue) states:
Category R weapons

(1) Each of the following is a category R weapon—
(a) a machine gun or submachine gun that is fully automatic in its operation and
actuated by energy developed when it is being fired or has multiple revolving
barrels, and any replica or facsimile of a machine gun or submachine gun that is
not a toy;

5.6 Legislation should be evidence based. It is unreasonable to prohibit an item, including a firearm merely because it has similarities with another that are purely cosmetic. This concept disadvantages those who are complying, or seeking to comply with the Firearms Act 1996. If an offence is committed with any firearm, its resemblance to another will make no difference to the crime. Offences should be targeted at the criminal misuse of firearms, not whether one firearm looks like another.

5.7 Is there evidence of an instance where a crime has been committed by a licensed shooter, using a registered firearm that looks like a machine gun or submachine gun? What problems have been identified with the registration and use of such firearms? Will banning firearms because they have a particular design of stock reduce the likelihood of violence in our communities?

5.8 Firearms categories:

All rimfire rifles of whatever action type should be Category A
All shotguns of whatever action type should be Category A
Air rifles and air pistols should be removed from the Act completely
There is no issue with community safety in legitimate licensed shooters safely using these firearms.

5.9 Existing legislation already creates offences for causing fear by manner of display of any object which may be considered dangerous. Common sense should prevail. If an imitation or replica is presented or used as a firearm, the person using it thus should be treated as though the imitation or replica were a firearm.

5.10 Once a person has been granted a licence for a particular category of firearm, he has passed the fit and proper person test and could be expected to use such firearms safely and legally.

5.11 There is no detriment to community safety in allowing a licensed shooter to own and use a firearm of whatever category he has been approved to own, no matter what its appearance.

5.12 The drafting of this law has ignored the needs of law abiding firearm owners with physical requirements to use design features specifically identified for restriction. Skeleton stock constructions and trigger grips can be or enormous assistance to those with reduced upper body strength or physical limitations in the use of their arms and hands. This would have a negative impact on sporting shooters, including members of the community who are internationally recognised for their prowess.

6. Conclusion

6.1 The notion that something is banned because it looks, in part, like something else that is banned is absurd. Should dispensing syringes for children’s medicine be banned because they use plungers, a substantial design similarity to syringes used in the abuse of illicit drugs? Will this proposal result in any reduction in violence or harm in our community? Will this measure in any way meet the intentions of the National Firearms Agreement or simplify the application of this legislation?

6.2 We remain committed to our members in Tasmania and request that the process for making changes to existing legislation or applying sections of the legislation in a more stringent manner recognise that licensed shooters are not the problem which the Act seeks to address. Legitimate shooters recognise the need for regulation but deplore the fact that regulation often does nothing to address criminal misuse of firearms but instead, focuses attention on those who seek to employ their lawfully possessed firearms for lawful purposes.

6.3 We request that any changes made to the Firearms Act 1996, including the introduction of Guidelines such as the subject of this submission, be supplied to user groups, ourselves included, BEFORE enactment. As has been the case in other states, legislation that sounds good to the authors may have unintended consequences. Stakeholders may be able to highlight those unintended
consequences and propose solutions.

Jan Linsley
Shooters Union Australia Inc
27/07/16