Opposition parties rally behind shooters after record epetition against WA gun laws 

Western Australia’s epetition opposing state’s Firearms Bill 2024 closed with a record 32,234 signatures, prompting the Liberal and National parties to rally against the proposed new gun laws and bringing greater hope that the Labor Government might reconsider them.

“Now that we have an epetition that is the biggest in WA history and the only one to exceed 30,000 signatures, the question becomes: will the Cook Labor Government humbly pause and listen?” Liberal MP Nick Goiran said after tabling the epetition in WA Parliament yesterday. 

The opposition parties are supporting the petition’s request that the legislation be referred to the Standing Committee on Legislation for review. 

Apart from the fact that the Bill contains unnecessary and unproven restrictions on legal firearms users, and contains nothing that expressly tackles criminal misuse of firearms, those who oppose the Bill have particular concerns with its apparent over-reach, giving police extraordinary powers that override a person’s right to silence.

There have also been grave concerns over the way the Bill was written and presented, contrary to accepted parliamentary norms, as well as the way it has ignored major recommendations of the Law Reform Commission. 

There is a strong belief that the Bill was drafted by the state’s police before Papalia set up what was described as a “sham” consultation process and railroaded law-abiding firearms owners by ignoring their concerns.  

“The fact that over 32,000 Western Australians signed a petition to encourage the Labor Government to refer the Bill to the Legislation Committee speaks volumes,” Shadow Police Minister Peter Collier said.

“This Cook Government has no mandate for this reform. There are evidently a significant number of people affected by this legislation and the most effective measure to placate their concerns rests with full scrutiny of the Bill.”

Paul Fitzgerald, spokesperson for the Western Australian Firearms Community Alliance (WAFCA), said, “The government has been given every opportunity to listen and has now been provided with the clearest signal yet.” 

In the months since the Bill was first revealed, the government — particularly Police Minister Paul Papalia, who has spearheaded the proposed laws — has been stubbornly silent and resistant to genuine consultation.

However, it is not the only example of the current government using its majority to force through unpopular legislation. 

Nationals MP Louise Kingston described the Labor Government as “the most petitioned WA Government in history, a title they hold for their continued contempt for the people of Western Australia.”

“In 2023 the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act petition [which attracted just under 30,000 signatures] resulted in the Act being thrown out,” she said.

“The Firearms Bill 2024 is yet another assault on the private property rights and liberties on West Australians by this Government and an attempt to divert attention from the reality that Labor has no real plan to tackle crime.”

The question remains: Will the government take the petition seriously?

WA Premier Roger Cook last year was disparaging of epetitions, saying in regards to the one opposing the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act, “I thought it was a proper petition. It is just an epetition, is it?”




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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.