Gun Dealers Set to Sue Police Over Ban on Sales
There is no doubt that coronavirus has sent Australia and the world into a spin, but there have been some decisions made that appear to be using the pandemic as leverage for another agenda. This has been the case for the firearms industry for the past week with many states' gun shops forced to close their doors while fishing and other outdoor and sporting shops remain open. The closures appear to have nothing to do with the virus at all.
The Age reported "On Monday Victoria Police, with the backing of the Andrews government, temporarily banned the sale of weapons to recreational shooters, who make up a large proportion of the market. Police said there had been a spike in firearm applications and stockpiling of weapons this month".
"Gun dealers strongly disputed the police's claims and say the surge in demand was caused by shooters buying products before a 15 percent price rise on many firearm products that was due to kick in on April 1, caused by the drop in the value of the Australian dollar compared with the US dollar".
In the legal bid, LAFO representative groups will argue Victoria Police acted unlawfully by using section 69 of the Firearms Act – which relates to varying firearm licences – to ban transactions.
The National Shooting Council, which represents more than 8000 shooters across the country, has received legal advice that the particular section cannot be used to make changes based on events such as a health pandemic. The action is likely to be launched at VCAT.
"Gun shops have been complying with the social distancing requirements, so the decision to close them without any notice or identified problem has not been made for health reasons," a spokesman for the council said.
"The result of this decision could drive many dealers, smaller ones in particular, out of business."
The National Shooting Council
National Cabinet agreed that gun shops should be shut down during the current Corona Virus pandemic. The reasons for this are not clear.
Victoria says part of is reason is that applications for category A and B firearms and ammunition had doubled in the past week which it saw as ‘concerning’. It also linked firearms purchases to the risk of increased domestic violence and 'guns falling into criminal hands'.
Western Australia: Stores closed on 27 March 2020. The action drew an immediate response from SIFA which the WA Premier criticised. He said there is “no need” for sales at gun stores given the closure of gun clubs and ranges. Only transactions to support farmers and pest controllers are permitted.
Queensland: Stores closed on 27 March 2020. The Qld Government has not provided any reason, other than to argue that gun shops are non-essential. It has since made a partial backflip to allow primary producers to access firearms and ammunition, but no other transactions are permitted.
Victoria: Stores closed on 30 March 2020. It was the Victorian Government that pointed to a doubling of applications for permits to acquire and ammo sales. They also linked gun sales to domestic violence and access by criminals. The only transactions that are permitted are those for occupational reasons (eg farming, security industry).
Other states and territories: Tasmania seems unlikely it will follow suit but whether the other jurisdictions will follow suit is unclear.
Gun shops – and politicising the virus
Our industry is worth around $5bn annually to the economy or how it benefits us. Every town that has a pub more than likely has a gun store which may or may not be stand-alone. Some also sell fishing supplies, others stockfeed.
Of course they are essential. There are easily over 1,000 firearm gun shops and dealers in Australia. Some are 'mum & dad' businesses tucked away and do not have a shopfront. Every single one of them serves a need.
Gun shops – including those we have visited - have been practising social distancing, like other shops selling shoes, newspapers and furniture. In fact, many gun shops are better placed to do this because some have doors that prevent entry unless you are buzzed in
It means that the closures had nothing to do with health or the virus. If they did, the governments would have simply changed the requirements around shopping there - such as limiting access to x many people at a time - but they didn't.
Instead they closed our shops because it was politically convenient to do so.
They are coward-punches that need a swift response.
Here is what we will do:
Victoria: We are waiting for written advice to come back from our lawyers who provided an early indication of the legal argument we will use. We will be filing shortly.
- Queensland: The Shooters Union of Australia is similarly working to initiate legal action in Queensland in the next few days. Donations will be shared with the SUA to support its action.
- Western Australia: We understand a group is forming but at this stage it does not seem ready to initiate action. Until that happens, we will fill the gap and commence the search for a competent lawyer immediately. Donations will obviously support this as well.
- Other states & territories: We will share the donations if other states suffer the same fate.
- Elections: Regular readers will be aware that the NSC has commenced a national election strategy that will see it providing voting advice at EVERY state & territory election going forward. This issue will feature in those states that have closed gun shops and be used to end the careers of those politicians who have abuse their positions – at our cost.
Oh, and the good news is that Queensland’s state election is being held in this October, and WA’s election is in March, so we won’t have to wait too long to make sure they get the point.