The Sporting Shooters Association of Australia has called for the end of longarm registration in Australia, following the announcement that the federal government will establish a national register.
“The cost associated with the creation of a national registration scheme … could be better spent on targeting the criminal element,” the SSAA said in a statement.
However, Australia’s major shooting organisation congratulated the federal government for other aspects of its crackdown on the black market for firearms, which was made up of a package of measures that include the national registry but also place a heavy emphasis on directly confronting criminal activity.
The crackdown, revealed by federal Minister for Justice and Home Affairs Jason Clare, is seen as a better targetted effort than previosu ones to control a criminal problem without dragging law-abiding shooters into the net.
“For many years, licensed firearm owners have borne the brunt of misguided firearm law reforms aimed at placating the public rather than tackling the root of the problem,” the SSAA statement said.
“Evidence-based law reforms will put the spotlight on the criminal misuse of firearms and trafficking problems, which are feeding the illegal market in this country.”
When announcing the government’s move, which had bipartisan support in politics, Mr Clare endorsed comments by Victoria’s Police Minister, Peter Ryan, who said, “these initiatives … are focused on illicit firearms. We are very concerned to ensure there were no further impositions on those who are the registered owners of firearms, who are pursuing their sport in a completely legal and proper and appropriate manner. That is not what this is about.”
Law-abiding shooters have been quick to criticise the proposal for a national registry, though, after dealing with problems in state and territory registries over many years.
The SSAA pointed to the example of Canada, which has now scrapped registration of longarms because of its cost, associated administrative problems and lack of tangible benefits. Handguns and restricted firearms are still registered there.
Federal, state and territory governments must also consult with the Commonwealth Firearms Advisory Council over the matter, the SSAA said.