End of year update on Protecting our National Gun Laws

National Stakeholder Information Bulletin

December 2017

Throughout 2017, the Alannah & Madeline Foundation has worked to improve public awareness of the 2017 National Firearms Agreement (NFA) and liaised with State and Territory Governments to promote its full implementation.  The Foundation believes this is an important matter of community safety and that the greatest firearm ‑related risk to the safety of our children is likely to be the result of states and territories either not fully implementing the NFA, or watering it down.

As the year ends, it is time for an update, a look forward to planned activities for 2018 and a stocktake on implementation of the lever-action shotgun decision.

Update on the continuing threat to our gun laws

The recent Queensland election has again highlighted the need for continued vigilance to ensure that pro‑gun lobbies do not succeed in their efforts to incrementally unwind our gun laws.

There is a range of pro-gun organisations - shooters unions, sporting shooters associations, shooting industry foundations and weapons dealers - that are committed to enhancing ‘shooters rights’.  Some of these are affiliated to the American National Rifle Association (NRA) and most have the resources to promote their aims. Once again, we saw reports during the Queensland election about significant funding being provided either direct to candidates who advocate more liberal gun laws or for campaigns that would help get those candidates elected.

The 2017 Queensland election will increase the number of advocates of more liberal gun laws in the Queensland parliament.  One Nation will retain one member (a licensed gun dealer) and Katter’s Australia Party has gained an additional seat. Both these parties are very open in their support for relaxing our gun laws. At the Federal level, the Chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Shooting Group has been promoted to Cabinet as Deputy Leader of the Nationals.

Implementation of the lever-action shotgun changes

It is now one year since the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) decided to strengthen the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) to more appropriately classify lever-action shotguns.

Lever-action shotguns with a magazine capacity of greater than five rounds were reclassified to the most restrictive category of firearm (Category D). Lever action shotguns with smaller magazine capacities moved to Category B.  The prohibition on the import of lever-action shotguns of more than 5 rounds is not to be lifted until all States and Territories have introduced these new classifications.

To date, four states and territories have changed their laws to implement the decision and the table below provides brief information on the approaches they have adopted and the concerns raised by the Foundation. The remainder are expected to implement the decision during 2018.

Queensland was the most recent state to finalise its changes and did so just prior to its election being called.  As occurred for NSW, the Foundation wrote to the Premier expressing its concern about the lack of an end-point to the transitional arrangements for those lever action shotguns with magazines of more than five rounds which are currently in the community.

The Foundation continues to advocate that all lever-action shotguns should be transitioned to full compliance with the 2017 NFA within a reasonably short period of time.

Table 1: A summary of issues raised with State governments concerning lever-action shotguns

State

Commencement

Concerns raised by the Alannah & Madeline Foundation and transitional information

NSW

Commenced on 1 November 2017

The Foundation wrote to Premier.

Transitional arrangements created ‘special category B’ licences. These allow a person who currently possesses a lever action shotgun with a magazine capacity of more than 5 rounds to retain that firearm under the conditions which apply to

Category A firearms. There is no end-point for this ‘transitional’ arrangement.

Arrangements also allowed people to possess more than two firearms across Category C and D and did not appear to prevent extensions of magazine capacity.

NSW Minister for Police replied to the Foundation outlining the Government balancing the rights of current firearms license holders with the need to address illegal firearms and public safety

QLD

Commences on 1 March 2018

 

The Foundation wrote to Premier. 

Owners of lever-action shotguns with a magazine capacity of more than five rounds are able to retain them on their current licence without the need to acquire a Category D licence or demonstrate a need for a Category D firearm.  People are also able to able to inherit one of these shotguns and keep and use it, regardless of the category of their licence.

Licenced minors allowed to transport a Category A, B or H weapon to or from a firearms range outside of Queensland.

A reply from a Queensland police officer on behalf of the Government suggested that there is no intention to amend the legislation regarding minor’s licences at this time.

WA

Commenced on 4 February 2017

No Foundation correspondence and no legislated transitional arrangements.  The WA government appears to be operating on the basis that there were no lever-action shotguns with a magazine capacity of more than five rounds in WA.  People who have a lever action shotgun with a magazine of five rounds or less are having their licence upgraded to Category B when it is renewed. 

ACT

Commenced on 15 June 2017

No Foundation correspondence and no legislated transitional arrangements.  The ACT government advised that there were no lever action shotguns with a magazine capacity of more than five rounds in the ACT.  All owners of lever-action shotguns now have Category B licences.

 

A preview of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation activity for 2018

During 2016 the Foundation sponsored a petition to support changing the categorisation of lever action shotguns and successfully delivered it to the Prime Minister.  In 2017, we received some generous philanthropic support which enabled us to monitor implementation of those changes and to begin to garner broader awareness of and support for our world class firearm laws.

In 2018, our focus will be on building a stronger and community focused voice on public safety through effective gun control. We will help bring together concerned individuals and like-minded organisations from the public health, academic, primary health and community safety sectors to stand up and hold governments to account for the full implementation of the 2017 National Firearms Agreement.

We will ensure a fair and balanced public debate and work together to put the safety of the community at the centre of the gun control conversation.

Thank you
Thank you for your continued interest in the work of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation and in particular your support of our gun control petition. The enthusiasm which you and 60,000 of your fellow concerned Australians displayed in signing the Petition, played an important role in strengthening our Firearms regulations and helping to keep the Australian community a safe place – especially for children.

At the Foundation we hope that you and your family have a safe, healthy and happy festive season and we look forward to reaching out to you again in 2018.

In the meantime if you need any more information, please contact info@amf.org.au.

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