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National Firearms Agreement Analysis

Shooters Union of Queensland (inc) Analysis of the 2017 National Firearms Agreement

Following the release of the 2017 version of the National Firearms Agreement, Shooters Union had a look at the document, comparing it to the 1996 version, understanding what the clauses mean and looking at what legislation has to change to enact the NFA.

Being largely a re-hash of the 1996 NFA, all of the restrictive, discriminatory clauses remain and then some.  Even the provisions from 1996 that have been proven to be unworkable in the intervening years, have been retained.  Why did the state governments sign the 2017 NFA, knowing that it wouldn’t work and would severely disadvantage every sector of the legitimate firearms community?

Why are we, the law-abiding, regarded as a risk to community safety?  On what evidence of misuse of firearms by competitive shooters, clubs, recreational shooters, primary producers, security and the trade has this agreement been based?  Do they understand what they’ve signed?  Do they know what it means?  The 2017 NFA gives cart-blanche to governments around Australia, both Liberal and Labor, to legislate legitimate shooters almost out of existence.

Read what the 2017 NFA means to you…

1996 NFA/2002 NHA 2017 NFA What it Means Changes to Qld Legislation required
1 -3.  Opening Statement Broadly encompassed in Section 3 Principles and object of Act – Qld Weapons Act 1990.   This section of the Act is used by Police as an interpretation guide that effectively means everything else in the Act is intended to limit access to and the use of firearms.
4.  General policy statement Not something that would feature in the legislation itself
NFA 1. Bans on Specific Types of Firearms

NHA 1. Severe restrictions on handgun imports and parts

5.  Restrictions on Certain Firearms Essentially unchanged Most of this is in the Customs legislation.
NFA
1.  Ban on sale, resale, transfer, possession, manufacture except in exceptional circumstances
6.  Ban on the sale, transfer, possession, manufacture and use of Cat C and D except in exceptional circumstances (dealers, pest destruction, manufacturers, occupational and theatrical
ordnance)
Pump action shotguns are completely unavailable to sporting shooters unless they belong to the ACTA Qld Weapons Act Regulation require membership of an affiliated body that
undertakes clay target shooting, but there is no mention of ACTA in the Regulations. It seems difficult to justify privileging one organisation over another.
NHA
1.  Approved sporting shooters handguns
7.  Restrictions on possession and use of handguns. The revised version of the 2017 NFA now makes reference to s14(b)(i), which extends the genuine reason for Cat H to accredited events beyond Olympic and
Commonwealth games (so, for eg, IPSC).
In making the hasty change to s7, they have created a further inconsistency in that s7 no longer now refers to s14(c) (metallic silhouette and single action).
8.  A ban on certain types of competitive shooting with longarms Pump action shotguns are completely unavailable to sporting shooters unless they belong to the ACTA This will have the effect of ruling out 3-gun competitions, which are currently allowed in West Australia and the NT. It doesn’t change matters in Qld.
NFA 3.
Genuine Reason for Owning, Possessing or Using a Firearm includes sporting shooters with valid membership of an approved club (defined as participants
in shooting sports recognised in the charters of such major sporting events
as the Commonwealth Games, Olympic Games or World Championships);
9 – 23
Genuine Reasons and need for acquiring, possessing or using a firearm
Clubs used as genuine reason for licences must participate in shooting sports recognised in the charters of Commonwealth and Olympic Games or World Championships. The focus of this section is the approved club, not the individual shooter as in 1996.  Around
80% (our estimate) of existing clubs and sporting club licensees will not qualify.  Even if the focus is changed,
very few clubs participate in those events.
No allowance for JuniorsNo Cat C or D for pest destruction

This will require legislative change

13(b)iii  Limitation of Cat C shotguns to ACTA members Cat C shotguns only available to ACTA members with pre-existing licences or medical conditions Qld Weapons Act Regulation requires membership of an affiliated body that undertakes clay shooting, but there is no mention of ACTA in the Regulations. It seems difficult to justify privileging one organisation over another.
NHA
1.  Approved sporting shooters handguns
14.  Sports shooters – handguns In current legislation Victoria allows use of .45s for IPSC. This would be prohibited under the 2017 NFA.
NFA
3.  Genuine reason for owning,
possessing or using a firearm
15.  Recreational shooters/hunters In current legislation
NFA
3.  Genuine reason for owning,
possessing or using a firearm
16.  Genuine need for primary producers No handgun licences AT ALL for primary producers The major change here is that there is no provision for Cat H for primary producers. This is currently provided for in Qld Weapons Act. Implementation of 2017 NFA would require a change to Qld legislation.
NFA
3.  Genuine reason for owning,
possessing or using a firearm
18.  Occupational requirement The 2017 NFA removes available of security guards to have Cat C pump action shotguns. This would require changes to the Weapons Act
9.  Recording of Sales 21 -23  Firearm Dealers, manufacturers and Theatrical Ordnance In current legislation Simply requires each state to have regulation dealing with dealers, armourers, manufacturers and theatrical ordnance. Queensland currently has such regulations.
NFA 4.  Licence Categories 24 – 29 Categories of Firearms Lever Action shotguns with a magazine capacity no greater than 5 in Cat B These changes will require changes to the Weapons Categories Regulations, which does not require Parliamentary approval, although parliament can move to disallow the changes.
Pump action and lever action shotguns with a capacity no greater than 5 now in Cat C These changes will require changes to the Weapons Categories Regulations, which does not require Parliamentary approval, although parliament can move to disallow the changes.
Semi-auto, pump action and lever action shotguns with a magazine capacity greater than 5 now in Cat D These changes will require changes to the Weapons Categories Regulations, which does not require Parliamentary approval, although parliament can move to disallow the changes.
NFA
2. Effective Nationwide Registration of All Firearms
30 -31 Nationwide Registration A requirement for a system which is able to share information with a national information-sharing hub.  This may mean a national register. This would be consistent with moves in a number of unrelated areas to employ ‘big-data-analytics’ to keep much closer tabs on firearms and firearms owners. This raises some serious privacy and human rights issues.
NFA
4. Basic Licence Requirements includes maximum licence term 5 years
32 – 34 Licensing Maximum licence term 5 years Qld currently allows some 10 year licences.
NFA
4.  Basic Licence requirements includes licences issued subject to undertakings to comply with storage requirements, to provide details and submit to mutually arranged inspections
34(f)
Licences issued subject to undertakings to comply with storage requirements,
to provide details and submit to mutually arranged inspections
Not currently actioned except for random inspections.  There is no requirement to have a firearm in order to apply for a licence, so why must storage details be provided prior to issue of a licence?  Many people hire firearms, rather than own them.
NFA
5.  Training as a prerequisite for
Licensing
35.  Requisite training Largely unchanged, however there is a new section relating to standardisation across Australia.
44(f) requires a firearms safety booklet to be distributed to all new licence applicants PRIOR to attending a course.  This is a very expensive requirement
because people often book in for a course, but don’t show up.
 This may need to integrate with TAFE sector
regulation rather than the current training accreditation.
NHA
12.  Clubs to endorse member’s
application to acquire a handgun, confirming that there are adequate storage arrangements and specify which competition
the handgun is for.
36.  Sports shooters – handguns
Clubs required to confirm handgun applicant’s storage and specify which
competition the handgun is for
Very
big imposition (with associated responsibilities and therefore, liability) on
clubs and their executive members.
(i) This seems to be the QP515 statement of eligibility process.
(ii) In the current WA.
(iii) This is not currently a requirement. The current Form 518a requires only confirmation of 6 months membership and the minimum number of participations.
(iv) In current WA
(v) This is new. Annual returns of participations were removed in Qld in 2012. Even prior to that there was no requirement to return details of firearms possessed by members. It also seems extremely onerous, and an apparent substitute for QPS keeping proper records.
NHA
8.  Graduated access to handguns
36(b).  Graduated access to handguns Essentially unchanged, however the requirement for confirmation of the competition for which the handgun is to be used has not been enacted.  Clubs have not been checked on whether or not they have been informed of handguns held by their members.
NHA
8.  Police check required before
joining a handgun club
36(b)i  Police check required before joining a handgun club This has been interpreted in Qld legislation as a Statement or Eligibility OR an existing licence.
NHA
8.  Additonal handguns after 12 months conditional on genuine need, further confirmation of storage and
specification of the competition.
36(c)  Additonal handguns after 12 months conditional on genuine need, further confirmation of storage and
specification of the competition.
The requirement for clubs to verify storage has not been enacted.
NHA
21.  Audited annual return required
  36(a)v Audited annual return required This has not been required in Qld for some time.
The club is required to provide an audited (by whom?) return with member details, firearms possessed and participation rates.  At the moment, clubs collect classes of handguns owned, not individual handguns.
It is not done in Qld because it is a waste of time that achieves nothing and there is no ability in WLB to check the returns.  In fact, we believe it is not possible for WLB to know which club an individual belongs to.
NHA
3-5.  Collectors
37. Collectors Essentially unchanged, however there is, in both 2017 NFA and 2002 NHA a requirement for a Collector to display a commitment as a student of arms in order to collect post-1946 handguns.

Collectors are not permitted to possess ammunition for a collection firearm.  Collectors must agree to an
initial inspection and subsequent mutually arranged inspections.

Para (ii) and (iii) seem to prelude collectors form ever shooting their firearms. The current Qld Weapons Act does not allow collectors firearms to be discharged, but it does not impose a specific prohibition on acquiring
ammunition.
NFA
6.  Grounds for licence refusal or
cancellation and seizure of firearms
38.  Grounds for licence refusal or cancellation and seizure of firearms. Now includes the NHA provisions  as well as
NFA. Theft of a firearm will result in cancellation of a licence and confiscation of firearms.  So will failure to notify a change of address. 38(a)iii Who decides physical fitness?  This could be a temporary illness or accident with short term consequences.
The idea of balancing the right of the individual is not in the current WA, but this seems a quite reasonable position.
NFA
6.4  Grounds for licence refusal or
cancellation
38(d)  Appeal Process The current regime allows for appeal via QCAT. It is not clear if what they have in mind here is some other internal appeal process.
NHA
15.  Clubs to notify licensing
authorities of concerns about club member’s suitability to hold a licence.
38(e)iv  Clubs must notify licensing authorities of concerns about club members’ suitability to hold a licence.  Includes requiring sporting shooting clubs to notify police of a member’s expulsion and the reasons for it. Clubs can sometime expel members over minor personality clashes.
NHA
19.  Medical authorities reporting
model
39.  Medical authorities reporting model In current Qld legislation
NFA
3.  Visiting licences and moving
interstate
40.  Visiting licences and moving interstate Largely unchanged except that Cat D is not subject to mutual recognition provisions.
Cat C D or H licensees moving interstate will have their licences recognised for only 7 days.  This is
impossible considering the requirement to join a club and have a police check for Cat H.
NFA
7.  Permit to Acquire
41 -43.  Permit to Acquire Extra provision in 2017 that the PTA application must prove a genuine need (except for Cat A- genuine reason only)
Waiting period of 28 days – no change from 1996 but no allowance for shorter periods for subsequent firearms.
NFA
8.  Uniform standard for the security
and storage of firearms
44 –
48.  Storage
Similar, however a reminder of safe storage responsibilities is no longer required to be on the licence itself (probably doesn’t fit).  Instead, jurisdictions SHOULD CONSIDER IMPOSING GREATER STORAGE REQUIREMENTS WHERE MULTIPLE FIREARMS ARE KEPT ON THE SAME PROPERTY (presume more than one) AND several clauses (45 to 48) relating to inspections, declarations that licensees must make to say they understand storage and security requirements as required by legislation.  Obligation to promote education on safe storage.  Also the requirement for a strategic inspection and audit program for storage requirements.
44(a) An applicant for a new licence or renewal must have storage before applying.  If you don’t have a firearm, why do you need storage?
NHA
25.  Security Industry storage
49.  Security Industry storage A whole new section spelling out considerable detail around security storage and an
annual inspection program.
50.  Legislation or guidelines Allows standards to be introduced as guidelines to provide Police Commissioners with
flexibility for special circumstances
51.  Annual inspection of firearms and storage
for security
Don’t know if this happens now or not. May need legislative change.
NFA
9.  Recording of Sales
52 to 56  Recording of Sales In both NFAs, sale of ammunition only for those firearms for which the purchaser is licensed (not the category of firearm as currently in practice in Qld.)  How does a dealer know what
firearms a purchaser has?  Would require that all purchasers carry a copy of their firearms list when purchasing ammunition.  Since Qld’s records are extremely inaccurate, this is not practical or possible.  Does not allow a farmer’s wife (who has a licence of her own) to purchase ammunition for the farm.  Does not allow anybody to purchase ammunition for a friend, or for a firearm being borrowed from a friend. 53(d)  Dealers to be inspected without notice.
Would need legislative change
NFA
10.  Mail order sales control
57 – 58 Sale and transport of firearms Extra requirement to list the licence number of the dealer and the owner selling a firearm and the serial number in advertisements.  VERY BAD REQUIREMENT.  Provides a shopping list for criminals who will see the likelihood of a seller having other firearms apart from the
advertised one. Also in 1996 NFA, the commercial transport of ammunition with firearms is
prohibited.  This has been interpreted in Qld as being in the same package but it could be interpreted as being on the same transport on the same day.
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