Papalia cocky despite WA gun buyback reaching low milestone 

The Western Australian Government says just over 10,000 firearms have been handed in under its voluntary buy-back program, introduced in March as part of its draconian new firearms laws.

However, nowhere is the government or the Police Minister who is pushing the laws, Paul Papalia, putting it into context by admitting the number represents just 2.8% of the roughly 360,000 licensed firearms in the state.

The buyback has so far cost a reported $3.8 million, a fraction of the total $64 million allocated. 

The new gun laws, which are being rammed through Parliament despite a record-breaking petition opposing them, place strict limits on how many guns a licensee can own, an end to allowing rural landowners sell property letters to shooters, and factor in a person’s “views, opinions and attitude” when deciding if they are a fit and proper person to hold a gun licence.

To date, 6466 rifles, 2521 shotguns and 1043 handguns have been handed, but there is no data available on exactly what sort of rifles, shotguns or handguns are in the pile. 

The program has attracted criticism over the pitiful prices being offered for guns, with the prices fixed at certain values regardless of a firearm’s actual value. A rimfire rifle that is more than six years old will receive a mere $233 compensation – not much more than the costs of the Licence Addition to begin with.

Papalia has used the milestone to claim WA is now safer, while also accusing the opposition parties of trying to “gut” the proposed legislation, despite the opposition simply joining shooters in their request to have the legislation sent for review.

Shooters Union WA representative Steve Harrison said the hand-in should be described as a “steal-back” and questioned the make-up of the handed in firearms.

“There is suspicion that this number includes recently seized firearms from a well-known Midland dealership, thereby bumping the numbers,” he said.

Mr Harrison pointed out the majority of the guns shown in media as being part of the hand-in were worthless, and suggested the few exceptions were likely from people with inherited firearms who didn’t realise they were handing in a valuable collectible.

“As can be seen in the images provided to the community, many — if not most — of the firearms are junk, and it is likely that they have been passed in opportunistically with a view to the owners purchasing updated firearms with the money,” he said. 

Mr Harrison said the critical point was that none of the handed in guns presented a community safety risk, and he dismissed government claims to the contrary as “nothing but a smoke screen and confidence food for the gullible”.

“All of the ‘steal-back’ firearms are licensed and none have been removed from the street as Minister Papalia would have you believe,” he said.

The program will continue until either August 2024 or the $64.3m budget is exhausted, depending on which happens first.

WA shooters are reminded the “buy-back” is voluntary and those with deemed “excess” guns are able to sell them privately — although finding a buyer for them is another challenge, given all WA shooters are in the same boat and firearm shipping costs to the eastern states are extremely high.




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Royce Wilson

Royce is something rare in Australia: A journalist who really likes guns. He has been interested in firearms as long as he can remember, and is particularly interested in military and police firearms from the 19th Century to the present. In addition to historical and collectible firearms, he is also a keen video gamer and has written for several major newspapers and websites on that subject.