We agree Western Australia’s firearm legislation is well overdue for reform. However, we believe the reforms being proposed are misguided, unnecessary, and are not being put forward in good faith.
Many of the proposed reforms appear to us to be punitive. We also note the high-handed and primary producer-centric approach being touted by WA authorities regarding the proposed reforms. In doing so, the reforms disregard the legitimate interests of competition target shooting and hunting/recreational shooting community who make up the majority of the approximately 89,000 licensed firearms owners in Western Australia.
We do not believe consultation with stakeholders is being undertaken effectively or in good faith. While Police Minister Paul Papalia claims to have engaged in more than 100 separate engagements with stakeholders, the overwhelming feedback from the shooting community is the Government has dictated what the laws would be, ignoring reasoned and reasonable objections, and having MPs issuing template responses to constituent contact and concerns.
Every other State and Territory in Australia has, more or less, the same firearms laws. Indeed, this is the whole purpose of the National Firearms Agreement. These laws licence the shooter, not the firearm, and these laws have been universally proven to work since they were adopted in 1996.
We question why the Western Australia firearms law reform proposal is not to simply adopt a slightly modified version of the firearms legislation of another State – ideally Queensland’s Weapons Act 1990, Weapons Regulations 2016 and Weapons Category Regulations 1997, or even New South Wales’ Firearms Act 1996 and Firearms Regulation 2016 – since they have decades of evidence-based effectiveness, are known to be sound and workable laws, and would be an improvement in all areas for WA.
We also do not understand why the WA government is ignoring the recommendations of its own law reform body. In 2016, Law Reform Commission of Western Australia Report 105 made a large number of sensible, reasonable and practical recommendations regarding effective ways to reform WA’s gun laws. These recommendations appear to have been completely ignored.
The submission period for the current reforms has been just one month. This is clearly not long enough for a proper analysis and the formulation of a comprehensive submission on the issue. The only reasonable inference is that the consultation is mere window-dressing. Indeed, Police Minister Paul Papalia has disregarded calls from more than 10,000 of its citizens to extend the submission period. We do not consider this the action of a Government that is genuinely willing to listen to feedback on its proposed laws or reconsider their plans.
Here’s a link to our submission: Click here
Here’s a link to the WA Government’s discussion paper: Click here