Firearms Registry Public Consultation Summary - The Loose Cannon
On 17th April 2018 I attended a Firearms Registry Consultation evening at the Bicentennial Hall in Queanbeyan.
It was a pretty frustrating meeting, running from 5.45 pm until 7.30 pm. ‘Introductions’ and ‘previously submitted’ questions took too long, limiting the asking of questions from the floor.
One interesting point came of the introductions by Ms Gold. There is a staff of 90 at the Registry and 90% of them are women. This was mentioned as if it were a benefit, and, while it certainly makes their ‘eeey eye eeey eye owe’ statistics look good, sadly few women have much in the way of experience with firearms, which explains why the Registry keeps coming up with daft regulations.
The panel comprised of Spt Paul Conden, of Monaro Command, Ms Georgina Gold, Bluey Lyons, Paul Britton, Don Barton, Paul McNabb, Rob Boucher and Gary Bryant.
It was an ‘orchestrated’ meeting, rather than representing the type of genuine consultation that would have enabled a number of us to get through twelve questions that we had previously been developed.
Police opened with a comment about consultation on appearance laws, this gave me an opportunity to be critical of police consultation, and raise the issue of a client who was invited by the Minister to sit on the panel and declined because of its constitution. I also mentioned inadequate 21 days rather than 28 days consultation prior to the 2017 Regulations and was able to point out that I did not consider this fair consultation. I then succeeded in explaining to the Committee at some length why we as a group are not happy.
I was also able to explain to him that we are over regulated whereas criminals illegally import firearms and drugs and effectively work in a deregulated environment.
I was watching John Barlilaro during my presentation. He listened intently, nodded perceptively, and I felt he could appreciate why shooters were angry at how they are treated.
Interesting, Bluey remarked in respect to the Dunstan home invasion matter that he would probably have done as Mr Dunstan did. John Barilaro showed similar sympathy. I have some confidence that we might see a change of law dealing with the use of a firearm in extremis where a home is invaded. I predict this would occur where its use was proportionate and occurred within the home.
Firearms Owners United made a telling point about appearance laws not saving lives.
The issue of firearms surrenders outside of amnesty was raised. I understand this has been raised in Cabinet. This issue needs to be resolved so as to enable firearms to be back captured at any time.
David Voss of the ADA made some points about data collection and privacy. Apparently, the Registry has difficulties with its ability to interrogate data using current software and is seeking to resolve this at present.
Bill Irvine of the SSAA Goulburn was critical of shooters being on Crimtrac, and Ms Gold expressed the view that it was just the name of the Government agency that provided the database. With respect to Ms Gold, it is more than that, as culturally, most shooters feel that presence on a database titled Crimtrac, leads some Police to treat shooters as ‘criminals in waiting’.
Someone raised the issue of an ability for people to purchase handed in firearms and for proceeds to go toward funding the Registry. Registry staff indicated there was little political appetite for this.
I raised the issue that I had put in my submissions to the 2017 Regulations, a submission that NSW require safes to be in homes instead of in farm outbuildings and that the UK had a 50% drop in theft by this one expedient action, but that the NSW Police had not chosen this option and are clearly preparing the public for Regulations related to back to base alarms. This was not contested by Police present.
During the mid-seminar break I had a lengthy chat to John Barilaro, John expressed a desire to talk to me over the next two weeks about gun laws. I am hopeful that this may achieve some good, as he certainly appeared to me to be listening.
Whether talk translates into action remains to be seen, and I am sure he would appreciate that given past promises, Shooters would wish to see changes in law before any change to voting pattern would occur, as there have been so many promises made in the past, including those recently made in Tasmania, that have not translated to action.
One final comment. The Registrar remarked that sporting shooters are ‘good people’ who should not be over regulated. I found this comment somewhat Ironic given the legislative overload thrust upon shooters by the Registry, was he being dishonest in his comment? I do not think so, and I have had quite a bit to do with Bluey, who I consider a good person. I believe the problem to be a handful of policy officers within State and Federal Police, NSW Department of Justice and Commonwealth Attorney-Generals Department and the Registry who just cannot help themselves and who may possibly be working to a personal agenda.
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National Firearms Lawyer
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Simon Munslow is a lawyer who has a lifelong interest in shooting, having acquired his first firearm at the age of nine, and has had an active interest in firearms law since writing a thesis on the topic over thirty years ago at University.
Simon Munslow practices extensively in Firearms Law matters throughout Australia.
He is a regular contributor to the Australian Sporting Shooter magazine’s website on Firearms law matters, has published articles on firearms reviews and firearms law, and occasionally is asked to comment in the broader media on firearms matters.
This article is written for general information only and does not constitute advice.
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