Shooters in WA have tabled one of the largest electronic petitions in the state’s history as they fight against crushing gun laws being pushed by Police Minister Paul Papalia and the Labor Government.
In a state where petitions rarely come close to exceeding four figures, 12,673 of WA’s residents signed this one, which calls on Papalia to allow more time for feedback on the proposed gun laws.
“To the uninitiated these seem very small numbers but petitions rarely draw a big response so these numbers, in reality, are impressive,” the Western Australian Firearms Community Alliance (WAFCA) said in a statement online.
The petition was tabled in WA parliament on Wednesday but the government has remained silent on the matter.
“Shame on Premier Roger Cook and Police Minister Paul Papalia for ignoring the concerns of West Australians,” James Walsh, CEO of the Shooting Industry Foundation Australia (SIFA), said.
Papalia has been accused of failing to consult in any meaningful way with the shooting community.
The short period allowed for public feedback on the laws is seen as another way he is intentionally hindering any opposition to his agenda.
The new laws are designed to remove about a third of all legally owned firearms in WA by imposing ownership limits and making it increasingly difficult for hunters to gain access to land.
They will also force mental health checks on firearm owners and contain other onerous measures with no demonstrated benefit to the community or to public safety.
Despite there being no notable public safety issues of any kind around legally owned firearms in WA, Papalia is riding the public-safety bandwagon, insisting the new laws are being prepared to protect the community.
Shooting representatives have made no bones about the fact that Papalia’s proposed laws, which were pushed by the state’s police force, will target law-abiding licensed shooters but do nothing to tackle the criminal use of firearms.
The WA Nationals have sided with shooters on the issue in a state where Labor holds power in both houses.
A statement from the party said, “12,673 West Australians sent the Labor State Government a message today: Go back to the drawing board and consult properly with those who know how to ensure public safety is paramount in WA.”
The Nationals also want more time to consider the new laws but they have said they will support them overall.
Shooting representatives in other states are watching the outcome carefully, aware that all but one Australian state are currently run by Labor Governments.
There is a real concern that other governments may take a lead from WA if the new laws are adopted smoothly without a significant public backlash.