We are regularly seeing innocent social media posts being used against firearm owners. It would be not very smart to think that this isn’t one of the spots that they look at when applications are made.
Unfortunately, it seems exercising your freedom of speech is now grounds to be denied a firearms licence. A recent story shared byShooters Union Australiain their recent newsletter shows just this in play.
“We have written proof Queensland’s Weapons Licensing Branch takes social media posts into account when deciding whether to issue or renew licences”.
“In a seriously Orwellian turn of events, one of our members recently received a Show Cause notice over comments allegedly made from their Twitter account to the effect that weapons should be a right and be able to be owned for self-defence. This is a view shared by the majority of shooters (and one of our own stated policies!), and the very reason police carry firearms themselves – so it should not be anything alarming at all”.
The WLB Authorised Officer states in the Show Cause notice that “Whilst these [comments] may be perceived merely as your own personal views and ideology, when considered in conjunction with the assessment of a firearms licence, these statements are considered alarming and are in contravention with the genuine reasons provided for within section 10(2)(f) ‘Limitations on issue of licence’ and section 11 ‘Genuine reasons for possession of a weapon’ of the Weapons Act 1990.”
All this is bad enough, but it turns out that the member in question does not even have a Twitter account, so policeseem to have been not only completely mistaken but also potentially in breach of the Queensland Human rights legislation.
This situation backs up what we have been saying for ages about the impact of changes to the Fit & Proper Person requirements – legislation intended to stop violent criminals and terrorists from obtaining firearms is now being used to harass licensed, law-abiding shooters over irrelevant matters with no bearing on their suitability to own or use firearms.