NT ban on visitors’ ammo purchases has been overturned

Interstate visitors may again purchase ammunition in the Northern Territory after the NT Police Commissioner issued a temporary exemption to laws that prohibit anyone except NT firearms licence holders from buying ammo.

The ban on ammo sales to interstate shooters was enforced in January this year but has effectively been lifted after successful negotiations between police and shooting representatives consisting of the Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia (SIFA), Bart Irwin of Field and Game, former senator Nigel Scullion, and Darryl Yesberg of Coolalinga Guns and Ammo.

“After a 6-month battle, we are pleased to report that commonsense has been restored in the NT,” SIFA CEO James Walsh said. “This is a win, and we will take it.”

The ban was a result of the FPRU’s interpretation of the 1997 Firearms Act, which in one section states that a buyer of ammunition must hold an appropriate firearms licence “granted under” the Act, and elsewhere says interstate licences are not considered to have been granted under the Act. 

“This new interpretation by FPRU put an immediate stop on those who were travelling to the top end for competitive shooting events or hunting tourism, from being able to purchase ammunition on arrival,” Mr Walsh said.

“Several representations were made to the NT Police Minister highlighting that the ‘new’ interpretation of the act goes against the NFA and is inconsistent with the rest of Australia.”

He said the shooting representative group also pointed out that when the Act was introduced to the NT legislative assembly in 1996, it was “explicitly confirmed that the introduction of the new provisions of the Act would recognise interstate licence holders”.   

Despite this assurance, the wording of the law failed to properly deal with this particular issue, and it has taken the Commissioner’s new exemption to set aside the ban.

The exemption is expected to remain in place until the Territory’s Firearms Act is altered to recognise interstate licences used in ammunition purchases.

“This issue will be rectified in the Act once we get the opportunity to make further amendments,” the FPRU told SIFA.

Meanwhile, there are conditions imposed, primarily being that shooters can purchase ammunition only for themselves and only if intending to stay in the NT for less than three months. Their state licence must of course match the category of ammunition, which in turn can only be used under the genuine reasons of the licence, and for competition shooters the ammunition can only be used in approved competition.

“We are still working to fix an issue with PTAs, which involves a strange interpretation of the differences between what constitutes a ‘good reason’ and ‘genuine reason’ to purchase a firearm, however, we are hoping that further commonsense will prevail here as well,” Mr Walsh said.




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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.