Firearm owners have rounded on the president of the Queensland Police Union, who claims people will be shot because the government is taking advice from shooters.
The Queensland government this week announced the formation of the Ministerial Weapons Advisory Panel, a group of firearm experts who are tasked with helping streamline the state’s troubled weapons licensing system.
QPU president Ian Leavers reacted angrily, telling the media, “a reduction in red tape around gun ownership will simply mean more people will die. It’s as simple as that.”
Leavers also complained police were not included on the panel, prompting Premier Campbell Newman to say his Police Minister, Jack Dempsey, had made a mistake in not inviting police to be part of it.
However, police already have direct access to the minister and have been in a position to advise on policy all the way through – something that has led directly to an onerous, costly and mistake-ridden system.
The formation of the MWAP, which was intended to present a shooter’s perspective, is the first time since 1996 shooters have been in such a position to help the government form workable policy.
“Mr Leavers needs to embrace this step and join Queensland in developing a rational, reasonable and measured approach to law-abiding firearm owners ,” the Shooters and Fishers Party said in a statement today.
Ongoing problems in the Queensland weapons licensing system have added to the drain on police resources of administering licensed firearm owners, and the new government appears to be keen to restructure the system so that it functions better.
Mr Newman has stressed that this is not about relaxing gun laws, but about streamlining a wasteful and inefficient bureaucratic system.
“If police are allowed to spend more time, money and effort chasing criminals, instead of oppressing LAFOs, then all in our society – including front line officers – would be much safer,” the SFP said.
Leavers claimed half the police officers shot since 2000 were shot by licensed shooters, but many have seen this as further proof that the system needs overhauling.
“What has developed since 1996 is a highly secure but poorly managed licensing system that needs red tape removed, not increased, so that police resources can be directed at gun crime, not administering the most law-abiding people in Australia,” the SFP said.
Shooters around Australia are growing increasingly angry about police attitudes towards legal firearm ownership, especially as it seems the use of illegal weapons by criminal gangs is surging.
Leavers’ opinions are further evidence of entrenched anti-gun attitudes in police forces.
“Former Prime Minister John Howard had the right idea,” Leavers said.
In reply, the SFP said Leavers “and the rest of Australia’s police forces need to understand that they should leave the tragic and unfortunate events of 1996 behind in the last century and stop vilifying LAFOs.”