Shooters, civil libertarians oppose Queensland Community Safety Bill


More than 200 organisations, companies and individuals made submissions to the Queensland Parliament’s Community Safety and Legal Affairs Committee (CSLAC) regarding the controversial Queensland Community Safety Bill 2024.

The wide-ranging Bill covers issues including firearms law, social media controls, youth justice, domestic violence and police powers generally. 

Some of the implications for firearms owners are significant, including the introduction of a Firearms Prohibition Order system that has the potential to encompass otherwise law-abiding people, including licensed gun owners and dealers.

The Bill has been criticised by considerable numbers of people not only for its liberty-reducing aspects, but also the short public consultation period — in practical terms, less than a fortnight, which is not nearly long enough for people to properly analyse it and make a comprehensive submission.

Shooters Union Australia has even launched an e-petition to have the Bill subject to further consultation, with more than 5000 signatures at time of writing, and had previously prepared an overview of what it considers the major problems with the Bill from a law-abiding firearm user’s perspective.

Shooters Union, the Firearm Dealers Association of Queensland, Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia, NIOA and Mirani MP Stephen Andrew are among the shooting representatives who put formal submissions in to the Committee focussing on the Weapons Act-related changes.

Shooters Union Australia presented a 9-page submission which noted, among other things, that “Most of the offences that the legislation considers as grounds for precluding a person from holding a firearm licence are unrelated to firearms and, in many cases, unrelated to violence”.

“There is no clear correlation between these proposals and an increase in public safety,” the submission said. “In fact, there is no statistical evidence indicating that holders of legitimate firearms licences pose a risk to public safety.

“The proposed legislation’s broad and extensive amendments are likely to result in severe unintended consequences, penalising innocent individuals and obstructing community involvement in crime reporting and resolution. 

“It is essential to reassess these provisions to ensure they are fair, practical, and effective in enhancing public safety without infringing on individual rights.”

SIFA’s submission noted the Bill’s potential capture of law-abiding individuals working in the shooting industry was especially concerning. 

“As worded, there are no protections for retailers who are exposed to or transact with, without their knowledge, a person who is subject to an FPO [Firearms Protection Order],” the submission said.

“The potential penalties (13 years) for this situation are clearly excessive. We can think of no other situation where a person is unknowingly the victim of an illegal act committed by another person and is potentially punished for that.”

These concerns, and many others regarding the Bill’s impact on dealers in Queensland, were echoed in the submission from the Firearm Dealers Association of Queensland.

University of Queensland TC Beirne Law School Honorary Associate Professor Dr Samara McPhedran skewered many of the Government’s claims regarding firearms crime in her detailed submission, noting that there is not a lot of data available to back up claimed firearm theft rates in the state.

“There is no up to date, Queensland-specific information available about what types of firearms were stolen, from whom and where, from what types of premises/storage, and whether those patterns have changed over time,” she wrote. 

“It is also unclear the extent to which compromised police staffing and poor police record keeping about seized firearms may have contributed to firearm theft statistics,” she said.

“Although it is clear that the Bill seeks to address possession of firearms by ‘high risk’ individuals through some of the proposed measures, it contains very little that aligns with evidence-based measures that have been found to reduce firearm violence (and, indeed, violence more broadly). 

“In relation to Firearm Prohibition Orders (FPOs), for example, information from New South Wales and Victoria suggests that very few firearms are detected during the warrantless searches authorised by FPOs. 

“An emerging body of legal reasoning also suggests that FPOs are unlikely to reduce a prohibited person’s level of risk to the community. It has been observed that FPOs may be disproportionately applied to persons of certain ethnic, racial or cultural backgrounds, who may also experience inequitable access to legal support.”

Mirani MP Stephen Andrew raised concerns about miscarriages of justice and unintended consequences if a Firearms Prohibition Order scheme was introduced, taking particular issue with the “public interest” clause.

“I find serious concerns with the broad term ‘public interest’, this leaves only the imagination as to when and how Police issue an FPO, it could be handed out to certain people during a safety inspection to target certain weapons classes or being used as a punitive device dished out for any reason politically or personally motivated by the Government of the day,” his submission said.

The Queensland Council for Civil Liberties made an extensive submission, and was notably concerned about the impacts of false violence allegations being used against licensed firearms owners to have an FPO issued against them, essentially preventing them from ever being able to have a gun again.

“The proposal that a person can be the subject of a police issued FPO on the basis that ‘the individual has communicated … to another person that they intend to commit an offence involving a weapon’ is another unacceptable extension of police powers in this Bill,” the submission said. 

“The situation can easily be imagined where during the course of a breakup of a relationship one party can assert that the other party has threatened to commit an offence involving a firearm where such an allegation is fabricated.”

You can read all 218 submissions on the Community Safety and Legal Affairs Committee website here: https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/Work-of-Committees/Committees/Committee-Details?cid=250&id=4413&t=s

 

 

 


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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.

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