New gun import regulations fail CFAC scrutiny

The federal government has released draft amendments to firearm importation regulations, but they have not been endorsed by the Commonwealth Firearms Advisory Council, which says many of its earlier recommendations have been ignored.

Jason Clare, the federal Minister for Home Affairs, has called for public comment on the amendments, which he anticipates will be in force early next year.

The amendments were presented to the CFAC at a meeting last week, and while they appear to contain a number of improvements that would reduce red tape and unnecessary restrictions, they still cover a number of topics already regulated by states and territories, as well as containing redundancies and vague wording.

The meeting was the first time Mr Clare had met with the CFAC, marking a long-overdue engagement by the Minister with the council.

The FAC had earlier accused him of ignoring its advice, refusing to respond to its correspondence and failing to take any action relating to its activities.

Mr Clare apologised for this and also acknowledged that the Crime Commission’s report into illegal guns did not provide any reason to impose stricter control over the legal ownership and use of firearms.

The council is still uncertain about whether Clare will follow through on indications that he empathised with their concerns. His position may not become apparent until the final draft of the amendments is unveiled in mid-January.

The latest amendments feature a number of changes affecting the industry and professional pest controllers, as well as some that directly affect sporting shooters, including:

  • lesser restrictions on the importation of firearm parts and magazines that fit both Cat A/B firearms and Cat C/D firearms
  • confirmation that adjustable stocks with less than 70mm variation will not be restricted (despite a number of submissions recommending greater variation).

There is no longer a push to re-classify revolving rifles as category C or D, and a proposed ban on .25ACP pistol ammunition has been dropped.

However, the proposed regulations would still place an effective ban on .50BMG calibre firearms and derivitives such as the .416 Barrett. The Attorney-General’s Department says the calibre is a threat to the pubic because it is used by the military for long-range sniping duties. Besides, it says, “only two civilian ranges in Australia are capable of accommodating this calibre and few, if any, game species require such a heavy calibre rifle, with other purpose designed ammunition better suited to hunting requirements”.

The commonwealth’s attempts to regulate the calibres are contentious, because the state and territories have previously expressed the view that they’re in better positions to determine whether shooters should be permitted to use them.

One amendment that has stalled is the recognition of clay target shooting organisations beyond the Australian Clay Target Association (ACTA) when it comes to permitting sporting shooters to import Cat C shotguns. This one appears to be too difficult for the Attorney-General’s Department to get its collective head around, because the National Firearms Agreement created ACTA’s monopoly on the situation, and changes relating to the NFA are much harder to implement.

The current regulations are here, and you can compare them to the proposed amendments, which are here.

Submissions must be made by Friday, 14 December and can be emailed to For more information, see the Attorney-General’s website.




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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.