Western Australia gun law reform

Many WA shooters will lose licences under new WA gun laws

Western Australia’s new gun laws have been tabled in State Parliament and they’re largely as bad as everyone feared.

The 241 page Firearms Bill 2024 was introduced by Police Minister Paul Papalia on 21 February and, as expected, it introduces a number of negative, even punitive, changes to the state’s arms legislation, chiefly:

  • Hard limits on the number of firearms a shooter may own (listed as 10 for a competition licence and five for hunting licence)
  • Taking into account a person’s “views, opinions and attitudes” and their “way of living or domestic circumstances” when deciding if they are a fit and proper person to hold a gun licence
  • Taking into account how many other shooters have permission to hunt on a particular property before letting an applicant apply for a hunting purposes gun licence relating to that property
  • Prohibiting landowners from charging for providing hunting authorisation on their property
  • Including physical and mental health checks as part of the licence application process
  • No mention of recognition for interstate licences.

The situation with property permissions is going to be particularly worrisome, as all existing property authorisation letters will be automatically cancelled when the legislation is passed, potentially requiring tens of thousands of WA shooters to re-apply for their firearms licences, with no guarantees they will be issued a new one.

There are some minor improvements from a shooter’s perspective in the new legislation, too, notably:

  • Firearms licences now valid for up to five years
  • Gun owners reloading ammunition for use in their registered firearms is explicitly permitted as part of their firearms licence
  • Gun owners may perform general maintenance and repairs on their guns without needing a Repairer’s Licence.

A significant number of matters are left for clarification or further detail under Regulations, including storage requirements, leading to justified concern there may be some nasty surprises hidden in there when the specific details become known.

Shooters Union WA state representative Steve Harrison said now was the time for shooters to fight, not roll over and give up.

“This is not law, it is a Bill and still has to be debated in Parliament and go through several processes before its third and final reading,” he said.

“Everyone needs to get onto their MP right now and tell them you object to these punitive laws, how they are being rammed through, and how stakeholder consultation is being largely ignored. 

“Tell your Labor MPs they should seriously consider crossing the floor in a joint effort with others to block the Bill.

“Even if you don’t shoot, or don’t like guns, you should be very worried about how this has been handled – the Government doesn’t care, it’s just a game to them and they will do the same thing to other communities or interest if they think it will get them votes.”

As part of the laws, WAPOL has introduced a voluntary scheme for the compensated surrender of firearms in excess of the new limits. 

The compensation being offered has been slammed as an insult by the major shooting organisations, with the Western Australia Firearms Community Alliance (WAFCA) encouraging shooters not to participate at present.

“We [shooters] are under no obligation to hand over any firearms. NONE,” the organisation stated in a Facebook post on Thursday.

“The WA Firearms Act is not law, it is a draft. The Parliament will discuss, debate and amend [fingers crossed emoji] for most of this year.

“For now, keep your cards close to your chest and your firearms locked up safely… 

“We are not legally required to hand our firearms in. Don’t buy into their games.” 

Firearms organisations are looking in more detail at the proposed laws and we will report their comments as soon as possible.




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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.