Home - Tag Archives: firearm licencing legislation

Tag Archives: firearm licencing legislation

Cost vs Results – Illegal Firearms

illegal-firearmsA recent response from the Attorney General’s department, in response to a letter sent to Justice Minister Keenan about the NFA review and the outcomes of the Martin Place Siege inquiry by a Shooters Union member, has shed light on some very interesting facts about the ongoing fight against illegal firearms in Australia.

You can read the full letter from Justice Minister Keenan here.

The letter assures the recipient that the Siege inquiry and the NFA review are not about “ … targeting law abiding firearm owners, but rather focuses on simplifying the Agreement and ensuring that it remains current today.”

It goes on the cover the ongoing ban on the importation of lever action shotguns of more than five rounds capacity, and points to “ … consultation with the firearms community (industry and recreational groups), community safety organisations and individuals to produce sensible, practical changes where required.”

But then it gets interesting. The letter goes on to outline the amount of money spent in various initiatives to detect and seize illegal firearms. The letter states:

Since 2013, the Government has:

  • Invested $88 million to increase screening and examination of international mail, air and sea cargo. This funding boost gives our agencies greater tools to detect illicit firearms and firearms parts at our borders;
  • Invested $116 million in the National Anti-Gang Squad, with strike teams now in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia and liaison officers in Tasmania and the Northern Territory. Since the introduction of the squad in 2013, over 892 illegal guns have been taken off Australia’s streets; and
  • Provided an additional $25.4 million to fund the expansion of the AFP’s National Forensics Rapid Lab to enhance the AFP’s capacity to detect and seize illegal firearms and target the criminal syndicates that peddle them.

Details of seizures as a result of improved border controls and the forensics lab upgrade were not provided, but if we consider just the results of the National Anti-Gang Squad, it has cost $130,000 per illegal gun seized.

Shooters Union fully supports the efforts of law enforcement agencies to track down illegal guns and to prosecute those who criminally misuse firearms – those people are a blight on every law abiding firearm owner in the country. However, we do question how effectively a huge amount of taxpayer funds are being spent, if it costs $130k to find and seize each illegal firearm.

Recently Professor of Law at University of Queensland Ross Grantham was quoted in an article https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/number-of-registered-guns-not-the-problem-its-the-guns-we-dont-know-about-20160706-gq035v.html stating that it’s the guns we don’t know about which are the problem, not legally held registered firearms possessed for lawful purposes

In the article, Professor Grantham states:

“There are a lot of guns in the wrong hands but there are also a lot of unregistered firearms out there in backyards and cupboards that nobody knows about.”

Shooters Union questions whether a more cost effective approach to illegal and unregistered guns might be to take legislative steps to significantly reduce the number of firearms in the so-called “grey market” – firearms which were never handed in or registered after the introduction of the NFA in 1996.

A first positive step would be to do away with the existing long arms registries for Cat AB firearms, in the same manner as Canada has recently done, after their experience showed it was a complete and utter waste of money. Most licensed firearms owners have a Cat AB licence already, so possession of previously unregistered AB firearms would not be an issue. The millions of dollars saved from over-policing the already most law abiding members of our community could then be redirected to mental health, hospitals, or even further crime prevention initiatives to make our communities safer and more equitable

The next step would involve making sensible reasoned changes to the legislation and regulations affecting who can possess what sort of firearm for what lawful purpose, and then permitting these other categories of firearms to be registered to licensed persons with appropriate licence endorsements for the newly legislated lawful purposes

Such actions would significantly reduce the number of currently unregistered or “unknown” guns in the community, which would result in:

  • a dramatically reduced likelihood of such “grey” firearms falling into the black market and into the hands of persons who would criminally misuse them
  • a substantial improvement in community safety due to the reduction in “unknown” firearms
  • a significant reduction in the potential for “grey market” firearms to fall into the hands of those who would use them for criminal purposes
  • reducing the hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds that governments are currently pouring into initiatives focused on illegal guns

So if, as the Attorney General’s Department letter to our member states, the aim of the Martin Place siege inquiry and the current NFA review are to “ … simplify the (NFA) Agreement … “ then surely simplifying the law enforcement requirements of the Agreement should also be a major part of that aim

Perhaps the Attorney General’s Department would do well to consider Shooters Union’s suggestions.

Explainer: what is the Adler shotgun? And should restrictions on it be lifted?

The controversy whether Australia should allow the importation of the Adler A110 lever-action shotgun has certainly delivered some over-the-top political theatre. If you believe hyperventilating sectors of the media, the Adler is a newly invented death machine. If you believe some politicians’ rhetoric, allowing the Adler into the country dramatically waters down Australia’s 1996 gun laws.

This sounds ominous. But is any of it true?

The Adler has been incorrectly described as “new” or “advanced” technology. In fact, lever-action shotguns have been around for well over a century.

The Adler looks modern on the outside, but on the inside there is nothing new.

The most contentious feature of the gun, and the reason for the parliamentary angst, is its magazine – the part of a gun that holds extra ammunition. Again, this is nothing new. Various models of lever-action shotgun with magazine capacities of five or more rounds have been on the market in Australia for decades.

Claims the Adler A110 somehow weakens Australian gun laws are pure fiction. Lever-action shotguns have always been permitted in Australia. For the past 20 years, they have been available to “Category A” firearm licence-holders.

Some say this is the “easiest” category for obtaining firearms, making it sound as if someone can instantly get a licence and go out and buy a gun. The truth is more complex.

What is a Category A licence? And who can get one?

A Category A firearm licence authorises a person to possess “rimfire” rifles (the .22, or “rabbit gun”) that are not semi-automatic, and shotguns that are not semi-automatic or pump-action.

To obtain a licence, a person must be over 18 years of age, complete approved safety training, and prove they have a “genuine reason” for owning firearms. “Genuine reasons” include purposes like target shooting, hunting, or primary production. Self-defence is expressly prohibited.

A person must be “fit and proper” – or, in other words, meet certain standards of character and behaviour. The standards rule out anyone with a history of, for example, violence (including domestic or family violence), illicit drug use, misuse of weapons, or other criminal activities.

It is mandatory for police to conduct backgrounds checks into licence applicants to ensure they are fit and proper.

It is an offence to provide false or misleading information, and penalties apply. A 28-day waiting period applies before a licence will be issued.

If a person is approved to hold a Category A licence, and wants to purchase a firearm, they must apply to police for an individual “Permit to Acquire” for each gun they want to own (and pay a fee). All sales must occur through a licensed firearms dealer, and all firearms must be registered with state authorities. Guns must be locked in a safe when not in use.

Politics dominates debates around guns

The hyperbole about the Adler simply does not match the facts. This is symptomatic of the generally poor quality of debate around firearm policy in Australia.

This, in turn, is rooted in Australia’s ongoing obsession with the concept of “gun control”.

The current furore is a holdover from beliefs that were fashionable in the 1980s. Back then, it was assumed that more guns mean more crime, and that certain types of guns are “more dangerous” than others. Although both assumptions have since been dispelled by Australian and international evidence, advocating for gun control has become more about signalling moral virtue than about a search for good policy.

For politicians, “being seen to be good” often trumps evidence-based decision-making.

Australia’s fixation with gun control has come at the expense of gun violence control. The two are not synonymous. Depending on the specific legislative measures and types of violence, they can certainly be related – but they are not identical.

Gun control is easy – all it involves is passing laws.

Gun violence control is difficult. It goes far beyond law and order, encompassing complex elements of human society and behaviour: poverty, disadvantage, unemployment, connections with illicit drugs and other forms of criminal activity, social fragmentation, cultural factors, and a host of broader social and justice policy challenges.

Tackling gun violence takes evidence-based, cohesive, and collaborative efforts that adopt a whole-of-community perspective. It needs long-term thinking and commitment.

Canada, the UK, and even the US have all implemented effective gun violence reduction programs. Australia has a lot of catching up to do. But it seems our politicians would rather keep shouting at each other about old guns than talk seriously about new approaches to improving public safety.

Article written by Dr Samara McPhedran, Senior Research Fellow, Violence Research and Prevention Program, Griffith University. Disclosure: Samara McPhedran does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article. Dr McPhedran has been appointed to a number of firearms advisory panels and committees, most recently as a member of the Queensland Ministerial Advisory Panel on Firearms, and as a previous member of the Commonwealth Firearms Advisory Council. She does not receive any financial remuneration for these activities. She holds memberships with, and volunteers for, a range of not-for-profit firearm-related organisations and women’s advocacy groups. She is not a member of any political party. This article first appeared 19/10/16 at 2.07pm AEDT https://theconversation.com/explainer-what-is-the-adler-shotgun-and-should-restrictions-on-it-be-lifted-67299

Freedom of Disinformation: Queensland Police Service Weapons Licencing Branch Strike Again

A few days ago, we described how the Queensland Police Service Weapons Licensing Branch appears to frown on the occupational use of pistols by primary producers while the Queensland Police regularly euthanise animals with Glocks.

It isn’t just the Police that frown.  The Police Minister has described farmers using pistols to deal with pests and stock as cowboys.  How did we get here?

Fortunately, we can get some idea from documents obtained under Queensland’s Right To Information Act.

“if their proposed use isn’t supported then the applications are very unlikely to be successful”

At some point in the recent past, this document was prepared:

“I propose that all staff assessing or following up on new applications and renewals for Concealable Firearms be encouraged to speak to applicants to let them know that Cat H applications will be looked at on a case by case basis and if their proposed use isn’t supported then the applications are very unlikely to be successful.”

After assessment by the Licencing Coordinator, if the application is not supported, applicants will be offered the opportunity to withdraw prior to being rejected.

Some applications get very special attention.  The document goes on:

“There cannot be a blanket NO answer for any type of licence, each one must be judged on its merits, however some of the standards points that have been referred to are listed below.

Why would each case need a special phone call where Branch staff members ‘speak to applicants’?  Is it because some special attention is going to be delivered?

“Enjoy our new, improved, special attention

In documents that appear to be scripts for the Branch members making the ‘special attention’ phone calls, we find these gems:

“The CSIRO and other Commonwealth and State agencies, including the Queensland Government, have produced a number of ‘Model Codes of Practice’ for the destruction of livestock and feral animals.  These documents indicate that in most cases the use of rifles of sufficient calibres should be used for humane destruction of injured or sick beasts.

Publications on humane destruction of feral pest animals are not supportive of the use of handguns due to the smaller calibres used and the lack of accuracy over distance both of which can contribute to the suffering of an animal.”

It is hard to understand why pistol calibres are said to be smaller than rifle calibres.  There are plenty of pistol calibres in common use which are larger than many common rifle calibres.  Despite that, the Branch seem keen to give you the impression that there is absolutely no scientific support for using pistols to euthanise animals.  There is no mention of the joint Queensland Police and Department of Primary Industries study at Warwick 16 years ago.  That study endorsed the Police Service Glock and its .40 calibre projectile for euthanising cattle.  There is even a Police procedure for euthanising animals with Glocks.

Undeterred by these difficult facts, the apparent script continues with its helpful suggestions:

“Other methods of carrying long arm rifles have been developed in recent years for both motorbike and horseback, including scabbards, gun racks and break down ‘survival’ type rifles of smaller size. This counters an argument that on rural properties it is not practical to travel distances with long arms.”

“Any rejection will need to be declared in future dealings with Weapons Licensing”

The most telling part of this apparent script is the implied consequence for the farmer or occupational shooter receiving the special attention:

“Please keep in mind that any rejection will need to be declared in future dealings with Weapons Licensing is it [sic: it is] a question on most forms used by Weapons Licensing.”

You sent the Queensland Police a form and some money.  You’re trying to work livestock or dispatch pests in pretty difficult conditions.  A policeman phones you and says “Thanks for your time today.”  And after some waffle he indicates they won’t be “supporting” the renewal of your existing license.  Then he tells you that you can withdraw your application and dispose of your pistol(s).  Or you continue your application for renewal and very likely face formal refusal.  He tells you to keep in mind that you’ll have to deal with us again.  It sounds like they’re saying: we’re in a position of power over you and we will remember this.

Why no public release?

When documents like the apparent proposal and script above are released, they are normally put on the online Disclosure Log for anyone to access.  They don’t seem to contain anything confidential or personal.  At the time of publication, they weren’t available online in the Disclosure Log (see application RTI/18362).

Police comment invited

On Monday we invited the Queensland Police Service to comment on a draft of this post by close of business Thursday 13 October 2016.  We have received none.

Article Written by A. Stanway – www.Firearmownersunited.com

National Firearms Agreement by Ozzie Reviews

I am currently licensed to use Category (select: A B) firearms and I am a member of the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA) and Shooter Union of Australia. I have been safely using firearms since I was 12 years old and I currently use firearms for sports/target shooting, recreational shooting and culling of feral animals.

I understand that the Federal Attorney Generals Department (AGs) are currently working with representatives from the Firearm Licensing branches from the various State and Territory Police, Customs, Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Australian Department of Defence (DoD), on further restrictions to be implemented via an overhaul of the National Firearms Agreement 1996 (NFA). The AGs report entitled “The ability of Australian law enforcement authorities to eliminate gun-related violence in the community” goes on to outline what they believe a technical review of the NFA should involve. Specifically:

  • Address State differences in “different lengths of licences and different requirements that need to be met to own and possess Category D firearms”.
  • Address inconsistencies “in areas not covered by the NFA, such as in relation to firearm parts, accessories, magazines and firearm dealers.”
  • “the accountability of deactivation standards and agreed firearm descriptors.”
  • “take into account the changes in technology and the legal firearms market that have occurred since 1996.”
  • “regulation of magazines, firearm parts and accessories”
  • “principles for dealing with interstate transactions, particularly dealers operating in more than one State or Territory”
  • “the classification of new technology with regards to:
    • ballistic performance (noting that this can have as much to do with the ammunition as the firearm)
    • rate of fire (including magazine capacity); and
    • appearance”
  • “more explicit guidance on the NFA’s genuine reasons for owning, possessing or using a firearm (the genuine reasons), and”
  • “technological changes with respect to the issuing of licences and permits to acquire.”
  • “There is no basis to recommend any update of the remaining elements of the NFA to expand the list of genuine reasons or changing the requirements for licensing.”

I have also been advised that the recommended changes will be developed without consultation and in closed session by the Firearm and Weapons Policy Working Group (FWPWG) chaired by the AGs Department.

The reason I am writing to you, is to urge you not to support any of these restrictions on licensed firearm owners and for you to raise and support the following points with the AGs committee currently reviewing the NFA.

The push for further gun control is unfortunately fueled by emotion-based statements and rarely does it examine any facts or statistics, mainly because the facts and statistics do not support restrictions on law-abiding firearm owners. One of the biggest misleading statements in Australia, is that our 1996 gun laws have prevented mass shootings and as a result, our homicide rate with a firearm has declined due to the implementation of these laws.

This statement is not supported by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC), who record that homicide with a firearm in 1995 = 59 deaths, 1996 (which includes Port Arthur) = 98, 1997 = 75, 1998 = 54, 1999 = 61, 2000 = 59, 2001 = 49, 2002 = 42, 2003 = 38, 2004 = 33, 2005 = 26, 2006 = 46, 2007 = 34, 2008 = 31, 2009 = 30, 2010 = 39, 2011 = 41 and 2012 = 44. The statistics clearly show that there has been an average downward trend from pre-96 and it continues on the same average downward spiral to the present day with a few spikes. If the downward spiral was due to the implementation of the 96 gun laws, why was the previous year in 1995 only 59 deaths or why was there an increase of 20 deaths from 2005 to 2006?

The AIC further state that firearm use has declined by more than half since 1989-90 as a proportion of homicide methods, and there has been an upward trend in the use of knives and sharp instruments, which in 2006-07 accounted for nearly half of all homicide victims. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) the 1996 gun buy-back cost the Australian tax payer just over 304 million dollars ($304 368 776 to be exact) and according to the statistics, there has been no change to the already downward spiral of gun homicide.

Another misleading statement is that the buyback cut firearm suicides by 74 per cent, saving 200 lives a year, according to research published in The American Law and Economics Review. Interestingly, the ABS statistics reveal that the total suicide rate Australia-wide, has actually increased in that time which supports the fact that the NFA has done nothing to lower total suicide rates. It further supports that you cannot prevent suicide simply by prohibiting firearms.

Further to this, in Australia in 2012, a total of 2535 people committed suicide, 1379 by hanging, 582 by poisoning, 173 by firearms, 166 by other methods, 112 by falls, 79 with sharp objects and 44 by drowning. These statistics prove that despite the 1996 gun laws, suicide rates are on the increase. If all firearms were banned, it would still have no effect on the total number of suicides, as that has been increasing via other methods since the 1996 gun laws were introduced. Suicide is the key element that needs to be addressed, not the methods, as the method is the final stage where a person feels that he or she are beyond help. The focus, in my view, should be on suicide prevention, not attempting to ban only one of the methods of suicide, being firearms. If the Government is genuinely concerned with suicide methods, what initiatives are they taking to keep rope and poisons out of the hands of potential suicidal persons? This statement is just as unrealistic as saying that we need to ban firearms in order to prevent suicide rates.

Another common statement used to justify further restrictions on licensed firearm owners, is that firearms in the hands of licensed shooters are a threat to themselves and others. This is also not supported by the ABS, who state that in Australia in 2012, there were 4 accidental deaths with firearms, the lowest of any other method. The ABS further provides statistics that in the same year, there were 1997 accidental deaths by falls, which means that you were 500 times more likely to die accidentally by falling, than by using a firearm in 2012. Could you please provide justification to further restrict and ban firearms from the law-abiding when firearm accidents are the lowest recorded of all methods?

Regardless of what laws and restrictions are implemented, it is impossible to completely eliminate gun-violence in the community. This fact was actually supported by ex-Prime Minister John Howard in 1996 who said “Now I don’t pretend for a moment ladies and gentlemen that the decision that we have taken is going to guarantee that in the future there won’t be other mass murders. I don’t pretend that for a moment”. Therefore the fear that members of the legal firearm community have is what we have seen previously, and that is, continual restrictions year-to-year in the name of eliminating gun-violence. As the statistics prove, even with the heaviest restrictions on licensed firearm owners, it is impossible to achieve this. The restrictions of the NFA target licensed firearm owners only and they have no impact on criminals.

In New Zealand, firearms licenses are granted for a period of 10 years, long arms are not required to be registered, semi-automatic firearms are freely available for both sports and recreational use and there is no Permit to Acquire (PTA) system or waiting periods for licence holders. Yet a 2011 study that compared long-term firearm homicide trends in “three countries with similar social histories but different legislative regimes: Australia, Canada, and New Zealand,” concluded that “the most pronounced decline in firearm homicide over the past two decades occurred in New Zealand. New Zealand has a lower murder rate with firearms than Australia, which proves that the only requirement to ensure public safety is a licensing system for firearm owners, not continual and greater restrictions year-to-year that we are subjected to here in Australia.

I would like an explanation as to why there is even any significant discussion being held and ultimately funding being focused towards the banning and restriction of firearms from law-abiding licensed firearm owners? There is no evidence to support that licensed firearm owners are responsible for any gun-related violence in the community. I am personally offended that the AGs proposals to ‘eliminate gun-related violence in the community’ include and even mention licensed firearm owners, where the entire focus should be directed to those responsible – the unlicensed criminal.

These statistics are evidence that the NFA has failed the Australian community in general. If the NFA was a success, we wouldn’t have experienced the Monash University shooting in 2002 nor would we have had the Lindt Café siege in 2014, where the offender Man Monis, was unlicensed and was using an unregistered pump-action shotgun that was banned in 1996 from sports and recreational use. We have approximately 800 000 licensed law-abiding firearm owners in Australia and the statistics do not support or warrant any further restrictions on us. I firmly believe that licensed shooters should be actually rewarded for their years of law-abiding behavior, not continually be punished with unjustifiable restrictions. I would like to request that the following changes are implemented to the NFA:

  1. Re-classification of Category-C and Category-D firearms for the genuine reason of sports, target and recreational use. As already proven in New Zealand, licensed shooters have access to semi-automatic rimfire and centrefire rifles as well as semi-automatic shotguns for sports, target and recreational use. New Zealand statistics prove that we in Australia have a higher murder rate with firearms despite the heavy unnecessary restrictions outlined in the NFA. Additionally our current firearm laws are an embarrassment to anyone with firearm knowledge and they reinforce that they have nothing to do with public safety. Currently our system allows:

2. Removal of firearm registration. In July 2014, New Zealand Police Minister Anne Tolley stated “there is no evidence to show that registering individual firearms will give greater protection to the community”. (https://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/judge-pushes-tough-new-gun-control-laws-6038152)

Registration of firearms has never been proven anywhere in the world to reduce the criminal use of firearms. The Australian statistics that I have already provided also support this view, as you can clearly see that it has made no impact on the criminal usage of firearms. Interestingly in Canada, the Government scrapped the firearm registry in 2011 due to the registry costing more than 1 billion dollars to establish in 1995 and the ongoing annual costs estimated to be about 22 million dollars. The Canadian Government says that it is wasteful and ineffective at reducing crime and targets law-abiding gun owners instead of criminals, who don’t register their firearms. (https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/10-things-to-know-about-scrapping-the-long-gun-registry-1.1019758)

Upon acquiring a new firearm, the relevant State Firearms Registry is required to provide an updated firearms list of all firearms registered to that licence. I have personally seen delays of up to 1 year for a firearm to be registered to a person’s firearm licence. Firearm owners are told that registration is for public safety, yet in this same scenario, if Police were required to attend a licence holder’s address, they would have no idea that the person was in possession of the firearm due to the delays in registering them against a person’s licence. Please justify or provide me with any evidence that proves firearm registration does anything for public safety?

3. Removal of PTAs. Currently in order to acquire a firearm, a licence holder must pay a fee to the State Police Firearms Registry and be issued with a PTA. This process is completely unnecessary and does nothing for public safety. If a person has already gone through the required police background checks to be granted a firearms licence, why is there a need to get permission to then purchase a firearm, when you are already licensed for that category of firearm? It serves no purpose and is simply a revenue raising procedure that has nothing to do with public safety. This was proven in the recent firearm amnesty in Queensland in 2013, where an unregistered firearm could be immediately registered to your licence via a licensed dealer recording the details on a Form 10. The only requirement was that the licence holder must be licensed for the category of firearm that was being acquired. This process was successful and proved that the PTA system is not required to maintain public safety.

In Queensland now, there is also a like-for-like system, which allows a licensed person to swap a registered firearm at a licensed dealer, for an identical type of firearm without the need for a PTA. This implementation is further proof that the PTA system is not required to ensure public safety. If a person is licensed for a category of firearm, it makes no sense that they would then need to obtain permission to acquire a firearm that they are already licensed to possess. It would be the same as requiring a driver who holds a car licence, to seek permission before they can acquire and use a car. What would the purpose of the licence be if this were required? It simply undermines the purpose of having a licence in the first place.

  • Under Category-A, a licensee can have a 19-round lever action rimfire rifle for sports, target and recreational use, yet a licensee is prohibited from having a 2-round semi-automatic rimfire rifle for the same purpose as it is classified as Category-C.
  • Under Category-A, a licensee for sports, target and recreational use, can have a double or triple barrel shotgun that can fire 2-3 shots as quickly as you can pull the trigger, yet a licensee is prohibited from having a 2-round semi-automatic shotgun for the same purpose as it is classified as Category-C.
  • Under Category-A, a licensee for sports, target and recreational use, can have a 7-round lever action shotgun that can fire 7 shots at the same rate as a pump-action shotgun, yet a licensee is prohibited from having a 2-round pump-action shotgun for the same purpose as it is also classed as Category-C.
  • Under Category-B, a licensee can have a 6-round revolving carbine centrefire rifle for sports, target or recreational use. The rifle can fire 6 shots at the same rate as a semi-automatic centrefire rifle, yet a licensee is prohibited from having even a 2-round semi-automatic centrefire rifle for the same purpose as it is classified as Category-D.
  • Under Category-H, a licensee can have a 10-round semi-automatic rimfire handgun for sports and target shooting yet the identical handgun with a longer barrel or extended stock is prohibited for the same purpose as it is classified as Category-C.
  • Under Category-B, a licensee can have a 10-round pump-action centrefire rifle for sports, target and recreational use, yet they can’t have a 2-round pump-action shotgun (Category-C) or a 2-round semi-automatic centrefire rifle (Category-D) for the same purpose.This proves that licensed law-abiding firearm owners can safely use and own firearms that are comparable to those banned or restricted back in 1996. It does not support that these firearms should also be banned or restricted, as there have been no incidents to justify any such action being forced upon us. It does clearly provide evidence to support licensed firearm owners having greater access to semi-automatic firearms in general.I am asking for your support on the following re-classification of the firearm categories to be:Category A
    – Bolt Action, Lever Action and Pump Action rimfire rifles
    – Semi-Automatic rimfire rifles up to 10 rounds
    – Break action, Bolt Action, Lever Action and Pump Action shotguns
    – Semi-Automatic shotguns up to 5 roundsCategory B
    – Bolt Action, Lever Action and Pump Action centrefire rifles
    – Semi-Automatic centrefire rifles up to 10 rounds

    Category C
    – Semi-Automatic rimfire rifles over 10 rounds
    – Semi-Automatic shotguns over 5 rounds

    Category D
    – Semi-Automatic centrefire rifles over 10 rounds

    Category H
    – Firearms under 75cm that aren’t full automatic

    Currently, the NFA allows Feral Pest Controllers and Primary Producers to use semi-automatic firearms in the control of feral pests. Feral Pest Controllers and Primary Producers are licensed civilians just the same as a licensed civilian who has firearms for sports, target or recreational use. The only difference being is that semi-automatic firearms are prohibited from recreational use. This has had a major environmental impact in Australia. Currently, when a licensed shooter is hunting feral pests with a recreational endorsed licence, they are severely limited on the amount of pest numbers that can be taken in a single encounter. The result is that numerous feral pests escape, only to breed up the following season. In reality, this is an ongoing cost to the Australian economy of approximately 740 million dollars annually according to the University of New England.

    The SSAA has attempted to lower the feral pest population with initiatives such as the Farmer Assist program, where a recreational licensed shooter will shoot pests on a farmer’s land for free. The effectiveness of the recreational shooter is once again severely limited due to the prohibition of semi-automatic firearms for that purpose. As proven in New Zealand, semi-automatic firearms in the hands of licensed shooters pose no threat to public safety. If made available on a recreational firearms licence in Australia, we would see greater amounts of feral pest species being controlled and as a result, greater financial benefits to the Australian agricultural economy. We would also see greater numbers of native animals thrive with lower feral pest numbers competing for their food and habitat.

4. Access to firearm suppressors for the genuine reason of sports, target and recreational use. A firearm suppressor, moderator or silencer, is simply a device that acts much the same as a muffler for a motor vehicle. It doesn’t silence a firearm’s shot noise as portrayed in Hollywood movies, it simply reduces the level of the shot noise to make it less alarming to nearby persons. In England the use of firearm suppressors are seen as almost mandatory to be neighborly to persons nearby. In fact, the British Home Office state that “Sound moderators are often used for shooting game, deer, or vermin. In the case of the latter, they might facilitate more effective pest control. They are appropriate for reducing hearing damage to the shooter, or to reduce noise nuisance, for example, for deer control in urban parks, or close to residential properties, or to reduce recoil of the rifle”.

In New Zealand a person does not even require a licence to possess a firearm suppressor, yet they have a lower homicide rate with firearms than Australia as I have already provided statistics for.

New South Wales permits Occupational Shooters such as Feral Pest Controllers to use firearm suppressors to adhere to Workplace Health & Safety requirements in relation to the use of protective equipment. An Occupational Shooter is nothing more than a civilian who is licensed, yet the NFA doesn’t permit non-occupational shooters to use firearm suppressors. There are no statistics to support any reason why firearm suppressors cannot be made available to a licensed firearm owner in Australia. As with any other protective equipment, it should be made widely available, as it could be protecting the hearing of approximately 800 000 licensed shooters Australia-wide.

Access to suppressors also limits the potential complaints from members of the public in relation to noise pollution on accredited rifle ranges. In 2010, the SSAA Brisbane had received a number of complaints from local residents in relation to this issue. Local residents further submitted a petition to reduce range operating hours and requested that noise levels escaping from the range, be no greater than 85 decibels to prevent hearing damage. In situations like these, the access to suppressors provide a workable solution to satisfy the needs of licensed shooters and adhere to concerns of local residents. (https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/reduce-noise-pollution-from-belmont-rifle-range.html)

On July 1 this year, three licensed shooters were arrested on private property near Logan in Queensland, when a nearby resident phoned police after hearing gun fire. This was a complete over-reaction as the people involved were legally shooting on private property with registered firearms. They were not charged with any offences. In situations where licensed shooters wish to shoot on smaller rural properties, the use of a firearm suppressor could greatly lower the potential of unnecessary complaints due to noise pollution.

5. Category H to include the genuine reason of recreational shooting. Handguns are widely used by Feral Pest Controllers, Veterinarians and Primary Producers. They have a purpose in situations where animals have been trapped, or are injured or sick and need to be euthanized. Currently the standard Category H licence restricts a licensee to using handguns on an accredited range only. There is absolutely no difference to public safety by expanding the use to include recreational shooting as the licensee is already licensed for the handgun, has possession of the handgun and has proven to be a fit and proper person to continue using the handgun. There have been no recorded statistics of Feral Pest Controllers, Veterinarians and Primary Producers causing any mass shootings or other concerns by being licensed to use a handgun other than at an accredited range.

6. Category H nation-wide for the genuine reason of Primary Production and Feral Pest Control. In some States such as New South Wales, handguns are not available for this purpose. A Primary Producer uses a handgun to euthanize sick or injured stock and as protective equipment in and around cattle yards. It provides for ready access to a firearm whilst going about daily chores on the farm without the cumbersome physical restrictions of a rifle or shotgun. Feral Pest Controllers use handguns to humanely dispatch trapped feral pests, to control feral pests in areas where using a rifle or shotgun is not suited and as a backup to their primary firearm. Both Primary Producers and Feral Pest Controllers who are licensed to use handguns cause no threat to public safety. Category H should therefore be made available to occupational licensees nation-wide.

7. 10 year licence for all firearm licence types and categories. In Queensland licensees are granted a 10-year licence for Category A/B firearms. There has been no increased risk to public safety since this implementation and it has streamlined the burden of the renewal process with Weapons Licensing Branch. There is no reason why all firearms licenses, regardless of category, cannot be issued for 10 years. New Zealand has 10-year firearm licences, yet they still have a lower homicide rate with firearms than we do in Australia.

8. Storage requirements to be the same across various licences. Currently under the NFA, if a licensee has a Category C firearm on a firearms licence for feral pest control or primary production, they are required to have the firearm securely stored in a compliant safe. If the licensee was to transfer that same Category C firearm to a collectors licence, they would then be required to temporarily deactivate the firearm by fitting a trigger lock or removing the bolt and then it can be securely stored in the same safe. How can it possibly be justified, in the name of public safety, that storage requirements for the identical same Category C firearm on a collectors licence, are greater than if a licensee was to have the same firearm on a standard firearms licence? This also applies to Category A B and H firearms on a collectors licence. Secure storage for any firearm should be standard across the various types of licences, there is no need for firearms to be temporarily de-activated when they are securely stored in a compliant safe.

9.  Removal of the Category D definition of substantially duplicates a Category D firearm is a Category D firearm. Currently the NFA definition of a Category D firearm includes a firearm that substantially duplicates a Category D firearm in function or appearance. This is an outright ban on firearms simply because of their cosmetic appearance alone and it has nothing to do with public safety. A recent example of this in practice, was when NIOA were prohibited from selling a Category B bolt-action rifle in Western Australia that was fitted with a pistol grip stock. The same rifle without the pistol grip stock was permitted, however the one with the pistol grip stock was classed as Category D, despite the fact that it was not semi-automatic, still required to be manually operated as a bolt action and did not change or modify the firing capability or action of the firearm in any way shape or form. It was simply banned on its cosmetic appearance alone. It is impossible to prove that banning or restricting firearms on their cosmetic appearance does anything to support public safety and it therefore needs to be completely removed from the definition of a Category D firearm and from any future proposals.

10. Removal of body armour being classified as a weapon or prohibited item. A ballistic helmet is not currently classed as a weapon in Queensland however a ballistic vest is. A ballistic vest cannot be used as a weapon any more successfully than any other inanimate object. A ballistic vest offers a degree of protection against some small arms calibres and is protective equipment, not a weapon. Ballistic vests and body armour do not require any type of licence in New Zealand and they have no statistics to support that there is any risk to public safety, by civilians having access to them here in Australia. They should be freely available here in Australia as they are designed to save lives not be used as a weapon.

11.  Removal of temporarily and permanently inoperable firearm requirements for collectors. Currently a licensee who collects firearms is required to store Category A B C H firearms temporarily inoperable and Category D/R firearms as permanently inoperable. How is it justified in the name of public safety to require A B C H firearms to be stored temporarily de-activated on a collectors licence whereas on a standard firearms licence they are not? As with any collector, whether it be a collector of motor vehicles or any other functioning item, requiring them to be permanently inoperable, immediately removes all the investment value of the item. This is why Category D/R firearms should not be required to be permanently inoperable. In New Zealand, licensed collectors can possess fully operating automatic firearms, yet we still see a lower homicide rate per capita than in Australia. Nor do we see licensed collectors in New Zealand being responsible for mass-shootings, armed robberies or any other gun-related violence in the community.

12. Airsoft firearms to be freely available. Currently Airsoft firearms are used widely in Japan, Europe and the US. They are much the same as paintball and offer participants a safe and fun way to compete in recreational matches. The firearms are prohibited in general in Australia mainly because they have the cosmetic appearance of military firearms and replica definitions. You cannot kill a person with an Airsoft firearm and as such they are classified as a toy in most countries. There is no risk to public safety by permitting Airsoft firearms in Australia.

13. Removal of the requirement for mandatory range attendances for Category H for sports/target shooting. Currently the NFA requires pistol sports shooters to participate in at least 6 competitions per year to retain a pistol licence. If a licensee attends a pistol range twice a year or several times a year, it makes absolutely no difference to public safety. If they are licensed, why should a pistol shooter who is proven to be law-abiding, be required to engage in any minimum number of pistol competitions? How does this enhance public safety? What difference does mandatory competition requirements have on the criminal use of pistols? A licensee should be free to enjoy their legally chosen sport without being discriminated against if they cannot meet Government dictated benchmarks.

14. Stop the suggested re-classification of Category A/B pump and lever-action firearms to Category C. The AGs Department is suggesting the re-classification of Category A/B pump and lever-action firearms to Category C based on so called ‘new technology’ since the implementation of the NFA. This claim of ‘new technology’ is completely false and once again there is no evidence to support the re-classification. Both lever-action shotguns and rifles were available in 1996 at the time of the NFA and were originally designed in the 1800s. This technology is one of the oldest firearm technologies available. (https://www.nramuseum.org/guns/the-galleries/the-american-west-1850-to-1900/case-20-colt-winchester/winchester-model-1866-lever-action-rifle.aspx)

Similarly the most popular pump action rifle in Australia, the Remington 7600, was first made in 1981 and has been safely used by licensed law-abiding shooters since the implementation of the NFA in 1996. There is no evidence or statistics to support restricting or removing these firearms from the hands of licensed shooters in Australia (https://world.guns.ru/civil/usa/remington-7600-e.html)

15. Stop the ban of firearms on ballistic performance based on rate of fire and calibre. Currently across Australia we have seen the various State and Territory Firearm Registries attempt to go above and beyond the legislation to prohibit firearms based on ballistic performance. Calibres such as 338 Lapua Magnum, 416 Barrett and 50 BMG are being restricted via prohibiting their use on accredited ranges and denying applications by licensed shooters to use them recreationally on private land. These firearms pose no greater threat in the hands of licensed shooters than any other firearm. Similarly, banning firearms based on rate of fire, magazine capacity and types of ammunition available does absolutely nothing for public safety. This fact was well supported in the recent Senate Inquiry into banning handguns which stated that “It is reasonable to conclude that the banning of certain categories of firearms only affects those who possess and use them lawfully. Those who use them unlawfully are already outside the law”.

Australian shooters were re-assured in 1996 by John Howard that the idea of the NFA was not to disarm the Australian Community. His words were “I have also heard suggestions, for example, that the whole idea of this is to bring about the complete disarming of the Australian population. I’ve heard people make suggestions that this is the first step in some kind of march along a road to the deprivation of peoples’ individual liberties. I want to say to you ladies and gentlemen that that is a totally unreasonable, it is a totally inaccurate and it is a totally discredited response to the decision that has been taken by the Government”. (https://pmtranscripts.dpmc.gov.au/browse.php?did=10030)

Since 1996, I have witnessed directly the opposite to this re-assurance, with greater and greater restrictions being applied to non-semi-automatic firearms and without any incident occurring to justify the restrictions. Licensed law-abiding shooters since 1996 have been subjected to calibre restrictions, magazine restrictions, bans on cosmetic appearances of firearms and tighter regulation on applying for licenses and PTAs, and now, we are being subjected to even more restrictions that target any non-semi-automatic firearm that falls in line with the new catch phrase of “rapid fire weapon”. This new ‘catch phrase’ that Gun Control Australia (GCA) and the AGs Department are using, is designed to set the building blocks for future disarmament by bureaucrats who have no experience or qualifications in firearm use. The dictionary meaning of ‘disarm’ is quite clear “to take weapons from someone or something” and that is exactly what Australian shooters are being subjected to with these proposals, which are in direct contradiction to the purpose of the NFA. (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disarm)

The demonisation of licensed firearm owners appears to be the popular norm and focus of future firearm law reform nowadays. We are treated as if we are the problem, as if we should just accept more restrictions whenever a criminal uses a firearm and comply with blatantly obvious anti-gun firearm laws that have absolutely no effect on criminals in our society. I am submitting that the changes I have outlined in this letter be implemented into the current NFA overhaul. I would further like to request that as part of living in a Democratic society, any proposed changes to the NFA be open to a public consultation process, the same as the recent changes to the Federal Firearm import laws were. I highly object to the recommended changes being developed without consultation and in closed session and request a public consultation. I am asking for your support which will reflect my voting decision at the next State and Federal elections. I am looking forward to your reply and would like to be kept up-to-date with the progress of the NFA changes.

Thank you

If you would like to send a letter to your local Member of Parliament or Senator, please click here. Please note: this feature is for Shooters Union Members only. If you would like to become a member, please click here.

Number of registered guns not the issue, it’s the guns we don’t know about

There are nearly 200,000 registered gun owners in Queensland sharing 800,000 weapons, figures obtained by Fairfax Media reveal.

But one UQ academic said it is not the number of guns registered that is concerning, but the number of guns police do not know about.

Professor Ross Grantham from UQ law school, who is a registered gun owner himself, said the number of registered weapons was not surprising.

“If you think of golfers for example,” he said.

“When they go out on the course they will take however many clubs in a bag they need to perform different things.

“It’s the same for shooters, you might have a .22 rifle for one thing then a pistol for Olympic style pistol matches and you might have a different weapon for practical shooting matches.

“It’s not unreasonable to think that a person might have four per licence.”

Outside sporting shooters, there are also people who keep weapons for other reasons.

“There’s a lot of heirloom firearms out there, and people tend not to sell firearms,” he said.

“Selling them isn’t entirely straightforward because of the way the deals have to be brokered through police.”

Professor Grantham said firearm licence holders have to be among the most law-abiding citizens in the country, so concerns held about the number of weapons held by registered licence holders were unfounded.

“A licensed firearm owner is one of the safest people in the community,” he said.

“They are subject to rigorous background checks and any infringement can result in their license being revoked.

“A couple of high-range speeding offences or a drink-driving offence and their license will be gone.”

And despite having some of the strictest gun laws in the world, it remains a mystery exactly how many unlicensed firearms are in the community.

“So much of the regulatory impost is on this very safe group (of licensed owners),” Professor Grantham said.

“But there’s so many in the criminal world that nobody knows anything about.

“Police don’t know how many (guns) there are or who has them or how they are getting into the country.”

Even the buy back in 1996 failed to ensure the country was clear of unlicensed weapons.

“There are rumours that circulate that after the 1996 buy back only a fraction of the guns out there were ever identified,” Professor Grantham said.

“There are a lot of guns in the wrong hands but there are also a lot of unregistered firearms out there in backyards and cupboards that nobody knows about.”

Of the 184,000 licencees in Queensland police only found 143 of them to be non-compliant with the requirements to hold a licence in the 2014/15 financial year.

Just 22 charges were laid in the same period.

Article written by Nathanael Cooper. 6/7/16 at 9.390pm. Article first appeared on the Brisbane Times website. Read the full article here: https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/number-of-registered-guns-not-the-problem-its-the-guns-we-dont-know-about-20160706-gq035v.html

“Secret” Police Review of ALL Queensland firearm regulations under way for the past year!


As many of you know, over the past year the Queensland government has refused to have any engagement whatsoever with the firearms community, despite significant ongoing efforts by our representatives to build a relationship and engage in open communication.

In the past 48 hours a Shooters Union researcher reviewing parliamentary records has found a clear admission of what we believed (but could not prove until now) was happening.

Documents tabled in parliament by the then-Police Minister in October last year, reveal that Queensland Police have in fact been undertaking a “review” of the Weapons Act and Regulations, with an amendment Act/Regs already well underway by the time that document was tabled.

You can get the full details here – see points 16 to 19:

It now seems most likely that the real reason for the government refusing to engage with us has been so that they could undertake a secret review, without any input or advice from the people who are most affected by those laws and who, as we have seen over the past couple of days, are clearly much more familiar with those laws than the government is.

This is deeply alarming.

If you think this review will be minor and not affect you think again, the last time in 2014 that Queensland Police made even minor recommendations (and this time it is NOT minor) they would have:

  • Allowed an authorised Police officer (no reference to the courts needed) to declare you “not a fit and proper person” simply based on who you know. Example: if a friend or colleague suffered from depression, you could suddenly find yourself declared “not fit and proper” and have your firearms seized. Just like that, no magistrate, no court, just 1 police officer’s say so. (QPS Proposal # 8)
  • Allowed an authorised police officer to have the police commissioner to reclassify virtually any type of firearm, then contact you and force you to surrender that type of firearm without compensation! (QPS Proposal # 26)

This time around the “review” has been deliberately kept very secret and will be far more wide reaching and will drastically affect almost ALL firearm owners, including primary producers and those recreational shooters who assist rural producers by destroying feral animals.


1/ Contact your local MP and inform them of the situation, request that they seek assurance from the the Premier guaranteeing the following within 7 days:

  • That a firearms stakeholder consultative committee will be formed in QLD immediately (inc groups such as Agforce, SSAA, SUQ and others).
  • That all recommendations by Qld Police relating to any review of the regulations will be shared with that committee for discussion and input before being presented at a federal level or to Qld parliament committees.
  • That the Qld Police minister and police representatives do not agree or sign up to ANY new changes to NFA (national Firearms Agreement) before consulting with and taking input from consultative committee.


  • Contact the Qld Premier directly with your concerns (since it appears the Police Minister is unlikely to respond favourably)
  • Forward this email to every firearm owner you know and encourage them to do the same.
  • Use the postcard we developed (link to PDF) – we are also happy to post members a number of cards for club or shop use + every gun shop in Qld has these postcards as well, encourage them to get them out on the counter.

This is truly one of the most anti-democratic moves we have yet seen ever taken against voters in Qld and we truly need you to act NOW and get onto your local MP (and write to the Premier as well) today.

SUQ will be sending out more information over the coming days on what is happening as fast as we can get it to you.

Remember your local member is actually not even aware this is happening, so they will likely be surprised as well.

YOU need to inform them that this is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!

And remember – be polite and stick to the facts!

Let Our Elected Reps Know That We Support Them When They Support Us!

Shooters Union has developed a new way to let your elected representatives know exactly how your feel about the current climate regarding firearms legislation.  Download the pledge card by clicking the link below, print it, fill it out, create a postcard from it and send it to your local members at both state and federal levels. It is sure to send them a clear message that you will not accept any changes to firearms legislation.

Click here to download your National Pledge Card

Are your guns at risk of being reclassified?

We have just been advised that Federal Justice Minister, Michael Keenan, has advised the National Firearms Weapons and Policy Working Group (NFWPWG) to recommend to state and territory Police Ministers that all lever action shotguns with a magazine capacity greater than 5 rounds, be re-classified to Cat D.

There has been much talk about the Adler shotgun being “new technology” and as such very dangerous, requiring a classification which severely restricts its availability to Australian licenced shooters, be they sporting or occupational. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. Have a look at this video to see exactly how “new” lever action technology is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0VfiqJWqF6M

There will be NO COMPENSATION paid to individuals who already lawfully own lever action shotguns with magazine capacities of greater than 5 rounds if the re-classification goes ahead.

You can go here  to see a statement released by Nioa on behalf of licenced firearms dealers.

Whilst it would be fair to say that there will be relatively few licenced shooters in Australia who will be affected by this change to shotguns only, the significant danger in this move is that this process of re-classification, now that it has been done once, will become the model process for re-classifying more firearms in the future, again with no compensation.

This is clearly the thin end of the wedge!

There have already been reports circulating of consideration to restricting all magazines, pistol or rifle, to a maximum of 5 rounds, and also consideration of re-classifying all pump action firearms, for example the very popular Remington 7600 and 7615, to Cat D as well.

If this happens, these firearms will become illegal to possess under a shooter’s existing Cat B licence, and will either be seized by Police, or be forcibly surrendered to a licenced dealer, with no compensation. However they will be next to worthless in the marketplace because there will be an instant flood of these firearms onto the second hand market, with no-one able to obtain a Cat D licence to buy them.

So what can we do?

Queensland does not have to automatically accept the NFWPWG’s recommendation. So we must all write to our local state member of parliament, and voice our opposition to any such re-classifications. But we have to act fast. The state and territory Police Ministers are meeting on 5th November to consider the NFWPWG’s recommendations – that’s just thirteen days away so we have 13 days to get to our state Members of Parliament in sufficient numbers to convince them that accepting these recommendations will be politically very painful at the ballot box for them.

You can see a list with contact details of all Queensland State MP’s here:


So write to your local member of Queensland parliament, and copy the Premier thepremier@premiers.qld.gov.a for good measure.

And remember, stick to the facts, and keep it polite!

Fighting the good fight for fair gun laws

The Shooters Union Committee

Canada to pass Common Sense Firearms Licencing Act

This article appeared on www.energeticcity.ca website on the 3rd of June 2015. https://energeticcity.ca/article/news/2015/06/02/zimmer-supports-passing-of-common-sense-firearms-licensing-act-in-house

Zimmer supports passing of Common Sense Firearms Licencing Act in House

Described as a Bill that will enhance safe and sensible firearms policies, the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act is set to become law in Canada. Energetic City reports that the Bill will see safety training for potential first-time firearm owners, a streamlined licensing system and the removal of the requirement to carry a separate document when transporting firearms to activities such as target practice or a shooting range competition. Co-chair of the All-Party Outdoor caucus Bob Zimmer welcomed the passing of the Bill, saying it was “one step closer to bringing common sense to our firearms licensing regime”. The Bill will now move to the Senate as part of the legislative process.

Prince George-Peace River MP, and Co-Chair of the All-Party Outdoor caucus Bob Zimmer welcomed the passing of Bill C-42 on Friday, the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act through a third reading in the House of Commons.

The Bill was introduced in the House in October of last year which was geared towards enhancing safe and sensible firearms policies. Specifically the Bill calls for safety training for potential first time owners, a streamlined licensing system, and no longer being required to carry a separate document to transport firearms to activities such as target practice or a shooting range competition.

In a release Zimmer is quoted as saying, “Our government remains committed to supporting law-abiding firearms owners, while also protecting the safety of Canadians. With the passage of Bill C-42 in the House we are one step closer to bringing common sense to our firearms licensing regime.”

Zimmer continued by saying, “These amendments continue our balanced approach to firearms, one that is helping us protect the safety of Canadians, while at the same time reducing the administrative burden for law abiding hunters, farmers, or sport shooters.

The bill will now move to the Senate as part of the legislative process.

Chase Charney chase@moosefm.ca