Spot checks of some Sydney shooting ranges have resulted in police ordering the temporary closure of two of them, the Sydney Pistol Club and Blacktown Pistol Club.
The ranges will not be permitted to begin live firing until after addressing issues concerning the security of safety areas.
I was at Malabar last Saturday, 1 September, reinforcing the fencing at the southern picket site with a few members of the Military Rifle Clubs Association and the Alpine Precision Rifle Club when Barney Jenkins, the NSW inspector of firearms ranges, arrived.
He was with a senior constable dressed in a tactical-type uniform. They wandered up to us and asked to be shown around. They had been shown around the range and the northern picket site before they got to us and they were very thorough.
They were definitely on a mission and told us they had just closed Blacktown PC and Sydney PC (at La Perouse) for lack of resources devoted to keeping intruders out of their safety template areas.
It was not a nice experience – very civil and almost cordial, but only because we knew we were making the effort to keep intruders out and we had good radio communications between all pickets and the range safety coordinator.
There has been repeated vandalism of perimeter fences, which we users must repair, and no apparent attempt by police to stop it or apprehend those responsible. A police spokeperson said police would act only if there had been a report filed.
It’s not clear whether range operators have made complaints to police about it.
Anzac Range users, fresh from a harrowing but successful court battle with the Commonwealth, had breathed a short sigh of relief before this visit occurred.
Is this the police commissioner’s or police minister’s doing?
The inspector of firearms ranges should be in an educative and supportive role for clubs doing their level best to maintain safe facilities. If public space needs to be acquired and/or fenced off (in the case of the pistol clubs) to keep the unwashed out, then the police should be helping make it happen.
Why can we not legally compel the Commonwealth to fulfil its obligation to secure the site, which belongs to them, with cameras, razor wire and regular police patrols, plus real prosecutions of trespassers?
This would assist in the efficient running of a world class facility that should be gifted to the NSW Rifle Assocation and shooters of Sydney in perpetuity.
Read my editorial in the October issue of Sporting Shooter, out soon. It refers to just this situation. Oh, and you’ll see a photo of me with lots of hair, too.
Blacktown PC is conducting a working bee this weekend to address the issues raised by Jenkins, but at this stage we are not able to confirm Sydney PC’s position.
We’ll have an update on the situation next week.