Unfairly Constituted Firearm Appearance Panel in NSW

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A client of mine has received an invitation to sit on a panel convened by the NSW Government to deal with the classification of firearms based upon appearance laws.

I had cause to write to the Minister, on behalf the client last year.

The Minister simply accepted the Registry view that they could regulate his product even although stocks are not a firearm or a firearm part within the meaning of the Act. His and his agencies actions are Inconsistent with the law, but, this involves firearms, right? So, to hell with the law, to a Minister of the Crown, this is probably regarded as OK.

Now, the offer of a place on a consultancy group appears a bit of an honour however as Government consultancy panels have confidentiality clauses that would operate as a gag, if accepted, a sort of perfumed piece of Gaffer tape is nicely applied to his mouth.

Nice try Minister.

Turning to the panel, if it is indicative of Troy Grant’s approach toward consultation, little has changed since the shambolic consultation prior to the NSW Regulations last year.

The Panel comprises of the following:

Chair- Office for Police

NSW Police Ballistics Unit

NSW Police Force Firearms Registry

NSWPF Drug and Firearms Squad

Gary Fleetwood, Manager, Firearms identification and National Tracing Program, strategic intelligence and Strategy, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.  

For younger shooters, or for those who have forgotten, Mr Fleetwood was an SSAA Official who saw a career opportunity in the National Firearms Agreement and now works for the other side.

SSAA representative who is an armourer or manufacturer. (SSAA reps are a good ‘safe’ choice for the Government) and this option means shooters do not get an SSAA rep and an armourer

My client who for reasons above has declined the appointment.

Paul Britton, President NSW Firearms Dealers Association.

Crown Solicitors Office or Office of General Council NSWPF They need to be present, though I cannot see why they need to qualify as voting participants.

Office for Police

I am surprised that the conference Terms of Reference / Invitation does not include a dress code that insists everyone wear blue!

That is six state Police / NSW Government representatives, Gary Fleetwood for the Federal Government Paul Britton on behalf of the Dealers Assoc and of course the SSAA.

When I rang SIFA the Shooting Industry Foundation about this Panel yesterday, they were unaware of this panel, and indicated that even if they were invited, constituted as it is, they would consider it a waste of time. 

Hardly fair consultation.

I remind the Minister that Westminster Democracy has traditions that need to be respected by all Ministers irrespective of portfolio.

The other issue of course is should this panel even sit?  My client’s product is not really a Firearms Part and should not be regulated, and there are no manufacturers of prohibited firearms in Australia other than the Lithgow Small Arms Factory, and as producers of the Austeyr, they are hardly likely to present a compliance problem to the Government.

I would have thought that if Politicians wish to classify firearms on the basis of appearances- a task President Clinton tried and failed at, and as all prohibited firearms are imported, this is more a national issue than a state one.

However, aside from this, there is an even more fundamental question, what is the purpose of appearance laws?  A lot of countries- witness Europe permits airsoft guns and .22 versions of semi-automatics.  A crime wave has not resulted from this.

What is this legislation seeking to achieve? Or is it still more of the misguided view of Howard that wished to stop Australia going down the path of America without appreciating that the US firearms problem is in actuality a ghetto-based drug problem.

Simon Munslow

National Firearms Lawyer
P: (02) 6299 9690
M: 0427 280 962
E: solicitor@bigpond.com
W: firearmslawyer.com.au

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. 
He can assist you with:

Criminal law & Administrative law and in particular that related to Firearms

• All firearms, weapons and game charges
• Avoiding & setting aside Apprehended Violence Orders
• Possession of unregistered firearms
• Unsafe transportation & storage matters
• Applications for prohibited weapons
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