NSW shooters dodge a bullet

A range of harsh new gun regulations were almost foisted onto NSW shooters last month, regulations that would have closed down small dealerships, made ‘paper’ criminals of thousands of hunters and handed unprecedented powers to the police commissioner to veto individual firearm purchases.

The regulations were a comprehensive attempt by the government and police to all but shut down the shooting sports in NSW, and insiders insist the regulations have only been fended off for the short term, not stopped.

In many ways, the new regulations had the potential to make NSW gun laws worse than Western Australia’s, where the police can refuse permission for people to buy firearms for almost any reason, and heavily restrict certain calibres with no legislative justification.

They would have increased the burden on firearm dealerships to such a degree that many smaller dealers would not have had the budgets necessary to upgrade security as required, and even major dealerships would have had to extensively refurbish their buildings to comply.

Clubs would have been loaded with extra responsibilities, from having to be approved every five years to having to submit membership reports every month.

Even people hunting on private property would have been directly affected under a clause that would require them to carry written permission from the landholder at all times so that it could be produced on demand.

The regulations go much further, too, and Sporting Shooter will cover them in more detail in upcoming stories.

The NSW government tried to sneak the new regulations into place a few weeks ago but has been beaten back by the state’s Firearms Consultative Committee.

The draft of the state’s Firearms Regulations 2012, which are due to replace the 2006 version, were presented to the FCC at a meeting where members were told they had a matter of days to approve them.

We understand the government’s expectation was that the regulations would be rubber-stamped by the committee, a move that would then allow the Minister for Police to put them out for public consultation on the basis that they had been ‘approved by shooting representatives’.

Our sources indicate this might have happened quite easily, because not only were the regulations presented with no explanatory notes or summary – effectively hiding the changes in the body of the 94-page document – but a number of FcC delegates failed to go through them in detail.

However, some delegates did conduct a clause-by-clause comparison against the 2006 regulations and realised a large number of changes would have major ramifications for shooters and the shooting industry in NSW.

As a result, the proposed regulations did not progress beyond the FCC, and the government was forced to withdraw them.

The regulations are now being re-drafted and will be handed to the FCC again in the near future.

It’s not clear how much the next set of regulations will be altered.

Over the coming days we will give you a closer look at various clauses of the proposed regulations, which provide a worrying insight into what regulators around the country are trying to impose on shooters.




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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.