Solicitor and gun owner supporter Simon Munslow is callingfor shooters and hunters to sign a petition he drafted calling on the NSW andFederal governments to lift broken and outdated laws.
Mr Munslow said he hopes the petition, entitled ReformFirearm, Knife and Game Laws and appears on the GoPetition website, willencourage the governments to consider the over-regulation of firearms inAustralia and drew on overseas examples to show that current laws are not workingand are instead wasting taxpayer money.
“(The petition) demands sensible changes to firearms laws,”he said. “At present, we apply stringent laws to those who we permit to have afirearm, which is a good thing as I would not support anything that madeAustralia less safe. However, society then over regulates these people, in away that wastes resources that could be used to catch perpetrators of drive byshootings and such like.”
Mr Munslow is hoping the petition attracts thousands of gunowners who are not required to provide their addresses when signing it. Fromthere he said he will use it to pressure the government of the day.
“We give notice that if our treatment at the hands of yourgovernment does not change, we will vote against the government of the day atthe next election,” the petition reads.
“This policy should, if necessary, over successiveelections, shatter any bi-partisan approach adopted by both major parties inrespect to these issues, by overturning sitting members in marginal seats.”
He said that public expenditure on the policing of firearmspolicies introduced since the 1996 Port Arthur massacre were estimated to be ashigh as $1.5billion and said they only target law-abiding firearms ownersrather than the illegal gun trade.
Among the petition’s demands are that gun registration andPermission To Acquire requirements are abolished along with cooling offperiods, to simplify the licence categories, and to allow licensed shooters touse crossbows and sound moderators.
“We are not seeking to defend a position that would seeviolent people get access to firearms,” Mr Munslow said in the petition. “Thesechanges are a legislatively sustainable starting point for reform.
“We are happy to work with any government genuinelycommitted to delivering these ends, and reassess our demands if they can befairly demonstrated to be unreasonable.”
The full text appears below:
Firearms, knife and Game Laws
We are petitioning you to express our dissatisfaction at theway that your government is regulating firearms and access to public lands forhunting.
The treatment of firearms owners, and hunters, by theGovernment borders upon persecution of a cultural group, that is to say peoplewho choose to participate in an activity that is as old as mankind. Guns andhunting are not prohibited in Australia. It has nothing to do with Australiafollowing the path of America, as the literature shows the laws have made nodifference to crime rates. US crime has more to do with the extent of theirghetto gang problem, just as our drive by shootings in Sydney are related tocriminal gang members resident or active in certain suburbs.
We give notice that if treatment of shooters by yourgovernment does not change, we propose to vote against the government of theday at the next election.
We are aware that both major parties have adopted abipartisan approach in respect to firearms laws, however, the current policy, oversuccessive elections, will soon demolish that approach, as a vote against thesitting member in successive elections, particularly in marginal seats, willsecure a succession of one term government’s until such time that this issue issensibly addressed.
It is sad that in a democracy we are having to adopt thisapproach, but Politicians of all persuasions seem committed to trying to tradeupon our un popularity amongst certain groups within the community, and thereis now no point us seeking to sensibly talk to Politicians- we have tried thiswithout success over the past decade.
The firearms laws that were imposed upon us in 1996, in theemotional atmosphere following Port Arthur, were rushed through, illconsidered, and overly prescriptive- a knee jerk reaction.
That an amending act had to be quietly slipped through NSWParliament late on Christmas Eve in 1996, to fix a litany of obvious errors, isample testimony of its flawed approach.
Unfortunately, many of the errors did not just consist of typographicalerrors. Many of the assumptions upon which the Act was based are incorrect, andthe legislation has made no difference in respect to homicide or suicidestatistics.
There is a considerable body of objective research on thispoint. There have been a number of reports by the Commonwealth Institute ofCriminology (Mouzos) and other criminologists that are peer reviewed that amplyshow the failure of these laws, and these are quoted below.
Baker & McPhedran (2006)
WS Lee & S Suardi, ‘The Australian Firearms Buyback& its effect upon gun deaths’ Melbourne Institute Working Series WorkingPaper no 17/08
Even the NSW statistician has commented in the media thatthe laws have not worked (2009). The research that does not support theconclusion that the legislation is effective is not peer reviewed.
We are not commenting upon material from loud, anti gunsections of the community, including those of self styled experts who oftenattract media attention to themselves, and whose research is not peer reviewed.
Nor is there much point looking at overseas research. Researchfrom overseas tends to involve countries with totally different cultures andeconomies to our own. For example, in the US, one of the largest causes of guncrime is the ghetto, the consequences of the prejudicial ‘Jim Crow’ policiesthat followed the freeing of slaves over a century ago, and the patchy natureof US social policy since.
Thus in 2010, US homicide figures for various ethnic groupswere as follows:
African-American 14.6%per 100,000
Indians, Alaskans/first nations 2.7% per 100,000
Caucasian 1.9%per 100,000
Asian/Pacific Islander 1%per 100,000
The Australian rate is currently around 1% – the same aswestern Europe.
Often, from a global analysis of gun laws, one sees thatcountries or states with the most stringent or proscriptive laws have the worstfirearms crime. That is to say that the laws that have been introduced have notworked.
Britain has introduced laws prohibiting handgun ownership,yet the rate of handgun offences has risen, and Switzerland has very liberallaws, with ownership of assault weapons and pistols mandated by their militialaws, yet they enjoy a low homicide rate.
The failure of the laws to work does not justify the bandaid passing of additional laws by Parliament without due consideration. Parliamenthas adopted this approach in respect to many social regulation areas throughoutmost of the twentieth century, creating a perception of political actionwithout any meaningful social result.
The restrictive nature of tests for a Firearms licence, withits public safety requirements (which we do not seek to change from that agreedbetween the Police Ministers) has created a situation where, only people whocomply with the law have licensed firearms. So why waste time excessivelyregulating us, when the the unlicensed firearm market, which comprises largelyof illegally imported firearms, remains, like the drug market, in essence,deregulated.
We believe that all laws should be evidence based. Not basedupon opinion, or upon the narrow minded desire of one group within thecommunity that is effective at lobbying,, or the desire of a politician todivert attention from another issue, or to be seen to be ‘doing something’,when faced with a one off event, or the desire by Police bureaucracy toincrease the size of their empire.
What we ask for is every Australian’s birthright- a fair go!
Here we are particularly incensed that the Premier of NSW’sintroduction of ammunition laws under circumstances where even the PoliceCommissioner remarked that they would not work to control crime in SW Sydneywas nothing more than a cynical exercise in inconveniencing us in order toappear to be doing something about a problem that defies fixing,- drive byshootings in Western Sydney.
No doubt the Ammunition laws gave the Premier a feeling ofachieving something in terms of placating those ignorant about the firearmsissue, greens and some of the left wing members of the media, that somethingwas being done.
Thus, the philosophy underpinning the current approach,comprises of a legislative approach aimed at securing the vilification of onegroup in the community to the gratification of another group. Historically,this approach has been a tried and true political vote winner regarding thecriminal laws relating to homosexuality.
The changes which we set out to incorporate, are alegislatively sustainable starting point for reform. Many of the changes amountto little more than streamlining current laws.
For the avoidance of all doubt, we are not seeing to defenda position that would see violent people get access to firearms. Nothing isfurther from our core values.
Our demands are as follows:
1. Statementsto the media and public. We require that politicians and Senior Bureaucratsstop making statements to the media that are misleading and deceptive inrespect to firearms matters. Many representations by Police to the media areuntrue and amount to scaremongering.
Every time you, a representative of your government, orbureaucrat, who is there to support your government, make a statement aboutshooting or hunting that is untrue, or fail to treat this issue in an evenhanded manner, you disrespect my values and in so doing you disrespect me. Ifyou cannot understand and respect my values, you do not deserve to represent me.
2. Abolishgun registration & PTA’s. Almost all firearms used to commit serious crimein Australia are unregistered, with offenders being unlicensed. There is nopublically available evidence to indicate that firearms registration hasprevented any criminal acts.
There are approximately 2.6 million registered firearms inAustralia, and the number of unregistered firearms is unknown, but has beenestimated at between 1.5 and 6 million firearms. (WHISH)
Registration processes in Firearms Registries have largeerror rates, and the cost of operating the registries is between $27 and $100million nationally.
Additional waste is encountered through Police inspectingevery licensed firearm every four years or so, involving teams of Police in theactivity of visiting shooters homes, inspecting firearms, auditing, andcollecting data in order to purge the database of errors.
We have been unable to locate material indicating the costof this activity, but its cost, in regulating a benign group within the community,must be considerable, and is at the cost of what the community would regard asreal and productive Policing.
Registration of all firearms is unworkable, and only servesto feed more bureaucracies, and sadly divert Police resources from where theyare needed, on the streets of South West Sydney.
A more practical approach, is to apply the NZ model, whichwas introduced at Police request, after New Zealand Police realized two things:
? The errorrate in data entry was considerable and required considerable work to purge,update and correct it.
? it wascollecting information on firearms for information’s sake, and this informationwas not reducing crime or assisting crime clearance rates.
New Zealand abandoned long arm registration in respect toall firearms except handguns and centrefire semi automatic firearms – thechoice weapons for the events that the legislation is supposed to be fixing.
Recently the Canadian Government has also abandonedRegistration, after difficulties experienced with the RCMP Registry.
3. AbolishCooling off periods. Stipulating cooling off periods in the legislation isunnecessary. While a delay in being able to gain access to firearms isdesirable, to discourage ‘at the height of passion’ events, there so much of atime delay inherent in the bureaucratic licensing process that a specifiedcooling off period is redundant, and only serves to inconvenience legitimate shooters.
In respect to Permits to Acquire. A cooling off period applyin respect to second or subsequent firearms, and, as a person has already beensubject to a cooling off period in respect to their licence application, theyachieve no useful purpose in respect to PTA’s at all.
4. Simplifystorage laws to enable firearms and ammunition to be stored in the samecabinet, though with the firearm not loaded, and BOTH are under lock and key.
5. MergeCategory A & B. The distinction between ‘genuine reason’ and ‘special need’is meaningless in the Australian context. If a person qualifies for one, in ourexperience they qualify for the other, so why retain them as separatecategories? The idea appears as though it was borrowed from the UK, which drawsa distinction between shotguns and rifles based upon their range – an importantconsideration given that Britain is so closely settled, but totally meaninglessunder Australian conditions into category A.
6. Lowpowered rimfire semi automatic firearms. Allow low powered semi automaticfirearms to be owned under a category A licence.
7. Merge thereasons for ownership, so that satisfaction of one reason, allows a person touse a firearm for any other lawful use. So that for example, a person licensedfor hunting can target shoot, and vice versa, and a shooter with a recreationalhunting licence can assist a farmer in euthenasing stock- something that wouldnot be permitted under current licence conditions.
8. Semiautomatic and pump action firearms. If the main concern with semiautomaticfirearms, is magazine capacity, in conjunction with speed of fire, and thuscapacity for suppressive fire, or mass homicide, allow semi automatics ,butaddress the real issue, specifically high capacity magazines, and do notprohibit low capacity semi automatics or pump action shotguns that cannot accept,or be made to accept, through a reasonably practical modification , an externalmagazine.
10. Legalisecrossbows and sound moderators. Current restrictions, relating to crossbows orsound moderators, arise from hysteria, knee jerk incidents related to isolatedcases, or the Hollywood movies that adorn both with impossible performancecharacteristics.
Crossbows are slow to reload, and their heavy draw weightprevents children, or young adolescents from loading them. They becameobsolescent at Crecy and obsolete at Agincourt, since which time they have notbeen considered seriously as a weapon for 600 years, hence its legality in mostwestern countries, where they have a useful application in hunting.
Sound moderators are easy to fabricate illegally from a softdrink bottle and the contents of a packet of brillo pads, and plans for moresophisticated devices are available on the internet. Thus the law does nothingto prevent their availability to criminals. who, given their ease ofmanufacture, do not seem to want to use them anyway.
The value of a sound moderator is that it reduces the noisesignature of a firearm by about 30%. This reduces the risk of hearing damage tothe shooter, and also reduces disturbance to people who may reside in thelocality of a shooter.
As many shooting ranges exist in marginal seats, a reductionin noise would be of considerable benefit to some constituents.
Sound moderators are commonly used in the United Kingdom andNew Zealand, and in the UK, shooters are regarded as being inconsiderate, ifthey do not use a moderator.
If the NSW Parliament has concerns about either, it issubmitted that Parliament’s concerns can be addressed by making a person whowishes to own either hold a firearms licence.
11. Introducea velocity test in respect to the definition of firearm, (ie the UK 1,000 fps).It is absurd that a physics experiment, involving frozen oranges and gas in apoly pipe, can currently result in a device that meets the definition offirearm under the Firearms Act, and result in a teacher being charged. Thiswould have the flow on effect of ceasing the classification of paintball gunsas prohibited weapons (which occurred by legislative accident) and low powerair rifles as firearms.
Paintball guns are subject to stringent regulation, becausein the 1970’s, Police did not want Vietnam protestors to have access to whatwere then newly available, non lethal, crowd control devices that they held. Whenpaintball guns appeared a decade or so later, the Police simply applied thatexisting law, with the net result that a Sergeant and a team of public servantsare employed in the Firearms Registry in regulating a harmless industry,applying the same law to their regulation as they would if they were licensingmachine guns.
Paintball guns are largely unregulated throughout the freeand even Communist world, There does not appear to be a sensible rationale fortheir regulation here.
12. Empower aJudicial officer (Magistrate or Judge), dealing with a charge that may effect aindividual’s firearms licence, to deal with any resultant firearms licensingissues, thereby avoiding the need to deal with subsequent and costlyapplication and appeals with the Firearms Registry and possibly theAdministrative Decisions Tribunal.
At present we have the absurd situation, where a Court maygive a person a Section 10 under crimes sentencing legislation. This means thatthe charge is considered proven, but that a Court considers that the offence isminor, and the transgressor is of good character and unlikely to reoffend.
The Firearms Owner nevertheless needs to apply to theFirearms Registry where, as is often the case, a clerk, second guesses a statejudicial officer, and consider that a person pose a future risk to the public. Inevitablyif the shooter further appeals, his licence is returned.
Allowing Judicial officers to deal with this at the time ofsentence, would reduce the considerable clerical time spent in handlingfirearms matters, and the matter would benefit from consideration by aMagistrate at first instance, who would have an opportunity to consider thedemeanor of the person before him in the context of the matters that theyfaced.
13. Change the10 year bar on ownership after a conviction or AVO to 5, bringing the law inline with other states. The 10 year prohibition on firearms ownership wasintroduced by then Premier Carr, on the basis that ‘he wanted his laws twice astough as everyone elses’- this limitation was not a policy based decision, andgoes beyond the 5 years in the Police Ministers Agreement.
When the revision of this time period to five years was lastentertained, Police claimed that they needed the 10 year period for‘operational reasons’. With respects, it is hard to see how this is the case,because all that a five year period would do, is allow someone who has had aconviction or AVO that occurred more than five years ago, to apply for afirearms licence. If Police had genuine operational concerns, the applicationwould fail on public interest grounds.
14. Allowfarmers and vets access to handguns in circumstances of demonstrated need. Inmany areas of the state, long arms cannot be reasonably or safely carried onfarm bikes or Quad bikes.
This is particularly the case in steep terrain, or in areascovered with dense vegetation. The submission of Police, often made in ADTappeals, dealing with this question, is, that a farmer could return to thehomestead to secure a firearm to deal with a particular problem. This argumentis often nonsense given the geographical size of many properties, time lineinvolved, and the mobility of pest species or injured stock.
Allowing farmers access to handguns, in appropriatecircumstances, would help reduce suffering to stock.
15. Permitsecurity licence holders to use firearms for protection of person and not justproperty. It is absurd that a firearm can be used to protect property but not aperson. The current law would see a security guard protecting for example abullion shipment, able to carry a firearm, but one privately protecting a filmstar, be unable to carry a firearm for this purpose.
16. Abolishlaws regulating ammunition sales. They are represent tokenism at best and areunworkable.
17. Permithunting on public lands. This activity is benign. Feral game tends not tooccupy the same country as bush walkers, who produce noise that scares off forexample deer or pig. Their activities inject valuable money into localcommunities.
While resisted by the National Parks & Wildlife Serviceon ideological grounds. Parks and Wildlife have not proved to be goodcustodians of public lands, witness inadequate bushfire reduction strategies,the large number of pest species resident in parks in plague numbers, thatreduce the profitability of adjoining farms, and their heavy reliance on nonselective poisons such as 1080, that attack indiscriminately all animals in afood chain instead of target species.
Prior to the suspension of Game Council R licenses, R-licence holders destroyed more than 40,000 animals of target species in stateforests and 620,000 targeted pests across the state in the year prior to itssuspension. (Game Council)
Aside from expenditure in country areas associated with huntingactivities, these activities are clearly of considerable community benefit.
18. Knife lawchange. Remove multi tools, Swiss Army Knives, pen knives and knives with ablade length of under three inches from laws restricting the carriage ofknives. Britain has a three inch blade limitation in its laws, and does notexperience any apparent difficulty.
Even if you do not believe in shooting and hunting, we askthat, consistent with Liberal Philosophy, you respect our activities, as wehurt no one, and have true conservation (as opposed to animal rights activism)as a goal.
You should be aware of the considerable waste of publicfunds being spent on over policing us as a group, which is neither efficientnor effective. While figures on this expenditure are not publically available,they have been assessed by sources as between $405 million and $1.5 billionbetween 1996 and the present day.
We the undersigned seek fair, efficient, and effective gunlaws. Not laws that amount to bureaucracy for bureaucracies sake- as many ofthe current laws are, or laws that allow people who are likely to self harm, orharm others, access to firearms or weapons.
We are happy to work with any government genuinely committedto delivering these ends.
If any of the above demands are fairly demonstrated to beunreasonable, we remain happy to reassess it as a demand.