Shooters have won a temporary respite after fighting off draconian firearms regulations, and now the battle is on to ensure the next draft isn’t a repeat of the first.
The draft NSW Firearms Regulations 2012 threatened to give police even greater powers to persecute gun owners, clubs and the industry.
They were so badly received by the state’s Firearms Consultative Committee that they have been withdrawn, but only to be revised and tabled again in a few months.
“Following feedback from the committee … the draft regulation will be substantially rewritten and updated,” Police Minister Michael Gallacher said. “The draft that had been circulated can be disregarded.”
Disregarded, perhaps, but we still face the possibility of punitive restrictions being imposed on sporting shooters in the next draft, which is expected to be completed by September next year.
Mr Gallacher promised the changes demanded by the FCC would be included in the new draft, along with an explanation of why they are needed.
He also said there would be “wider public consultation” on the next draft, and this time we can expect a vocal and very public attack from the Greens and anti-gun groups, which have already shown an interest in the regulations and have months to react to what they will see as a watered-down version.
The advantages firearm owners and the industry have on their side include the strong position of the Shooters and Fishers Party and the new-found resolve of the Sporting Shooters Association’s NSW branch, which has set up a special committee to review the regulations. Both have a place on the FCC.
The failure by some FCC members to see the ominous details in the proposed regulations has been a wake-up call to the committee, and it is likely to be more effective in the next round of consultation. We believe it is also being more proactive in ensuring future regulations are not simply another beating for law-abiding shooters.
FCC members told Sporting Shooter they believe it is vital shooters get behind shooting organisations that are in the FCC, including dealers via the Dealers Association and individual shooters via the SSAA, Amateur Pistol Association and so on.
The recent bust of another major gun-smuggling ring, which was sourcing handguns from the USA, should further force police and regulatory attention onto criminal networks rather than law-abiding firearm owners. But ‘should’ is not ‘will’, and the police bureaucracy behind the draft regulations is unlikely to drop its anti-gun agenda.
Police continue to use their existing powers to revoke firearm and dealer licences, often for trivial reasons, and to not only impose greater restrictions on ranges but, in some cases, shut them down.
In the end, NSW shooters must make a concerted effort to ensure these regulations contain none of the onerous clauses that have been withdrawn, yet do retain a number of good changes that make sense and take pressure of law-abiding people.
And yes, there were some good things in the regulations, but they were inconsequential compared with the damage the police bureaucracy was trying to inflict on the shooting sports and industry.