The legal victory of a Geelong gun dealer over improper record keeping charges throws the entire point of a firearms registry into question, says Australia’s pre-eminent pro-shooting organisation.
The Outdoor Sportsman owner Rod Haugh fought a six-year legal battle with Victoria’s Firearms Licensing and Registration Division (LRD) after police raided his business over alleged paperwork and record keeping irregularities, seizing a large number of firearms and suspending his firearm dealer’s licence.
As reported in the Geelong Advertiser (paywalled story), Mr Haugh eventually won his case after a multi-year legal battle but estimates his business has lost $9m in revenue and the stress of the saga may have contributed to his suffering a stroke.
Shooters Union Australia president, Graham Park, said firearms registries all around Australia – including Victoria – were proving themselves to be expensive white elephants which had never been shown to have prevented a single crime.
“Mr Haugh has had his business almost completely destroyed over paperwork issues, and the court case fell over because the police admitted their records weren’t up to scratch either,” he said.
“We see this time and time again around Australia – Firearms registries with hopelessly inaccurate or outdated information, and the ones who suffer are the law-abiding firearms owners and gun dealers.”
Mr Park said every gun owner in Australia likely had a story of the firearms registry having incorrect details of a gun they owned or had legally purchased, and it was time to do away with firearms registration.
“It’s quite clear the money being spent on registries is essentially being thrown into a black hole,” he said.
“Every dollar spent on maintaining useless and inefficient firearms registries is a dollar that’s not going to frontline police or social services, where that dollar could do vastly more good than being used to make things more difficult for the most law-abiding sector of the community,” he said.
“You can’t buy a gun without a firearms licence and we are not suggesting that should change. But once you’ve got a licence, requiring a permit for every gun you want to buy is pointless feel-good red tape which makes people in inner-city leafy suburbs feel better but has no public safety benefit.
“Canada got rid of their longarms registry several years ago and even New Zealand, which experienced a terrorist attack not long ago, is not likely to introduce a registry.
“The facts are clear: Firearms registries don’t work. Licence the person and throw the book at anyone without a licence who gets caught with a gun.”
President Graham Park: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0418 700 320
Media director Royce Wilson: email@example.com or 0410 645 035