Australian shooters have had what some are hailing as a win of sorts, with today’s announcement from Minister for Justice, Michael Keenan MP, that licensed firearms users and industry representatives will have meaningful input into the review of the technical aspects of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA).
Minister Keenan said in this press release that consultation with industry and licensed shooters will be vital to produce sensible reforms as the Government reviews the technical elements of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA).
According to the release, the Martin Place Siege Review recommended in January that the Commonwealth, States and Territories simplify the regulation of the legal firearms market through an update of the technical elements of the NFA.
All states and territories agreed to this recommendation at the May 2015 meeting of the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council (LCCSC). Ministers and Attorneys-General from all jurisdictions will consider any proposed updates to the NFA at the November 2015 meeting of the LCCSC ahead of consideration by the first Council of Australian Governments meeting in 2016.
The objective of the review is to ensure our existing firearms regulations – which have not been substantively reviewed for almost two decades – have kept pace with advancements in technology and changes to the firearms market.
It is important that the NFA strikes an appropriate balance between the interests of licensed gun owners and advice from our law enforcement agencies to ensure the broader community is safe and secure.
As part of the consultation process we will establish an Industry Reference Group to provide advice to Government and the Firearms and Weapons Policy Working Group (FWPWG) – which is comprised of representatives of all Australian Governments – on the technical elements of the NFA.
This will be in addition to other stakeholder consultations that the working group and I will conduct.
Thanks to Leyonhjelm
According to this press release, the Government roll-over was thanks to the insistence of Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm.
Senator Leyonhjelm turned the screws on the Government by threatening to support Labor amendments to migration legislation.
He welcomed the concession from Justice Minister, Michael Keenan.
“I was able to get a commitment from the government for regular consultation with firearms groups,” he said. “This is highly significant, and we hope it will head off foolish decisions like this before they see the light of day.”
The groups to be consulted include the Shooting Industry Foundation Australia, National Firearms Dealers Association, SSAA, Field and Game Australia, Shooting Australia, Shooters Union, and shooting associations from NSW and Victoria.
The Liberal Democrats ran a successful social media campaign on the back of the issue that was shared thousands of times by shooters and raised more than $8,000.
Senator Leyonhjelm has vowed to keep up the fight for shooters’ rights and will oppose any attempt to increase restrictions on lever action and pump action firearms via the review of the National Firearms Agreement.
Senator Mackenzie welcomes shooters’ involvement
For her part, Nationals Senator for Victoria, Bridget McKenzie, welcomed today’s decision to ensure licensed firearms users and industry representatives have meaningful input into the review of the technical aspects of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA).
“This is a common sense decision which is long overdue,” Senator McKenzie said in this press release.
“Establishing the Industry Reference Group and providing further stakeholder consultation is critical to ensuring we get the NFA review right.
“Our licenced and law-abiding shooters are the people who are most affected by the NFA review yet they have not had the opportunity to formally engage with the overly bureaucratic Firearms and Weapons Policy Working Group.
“Shooters and industry representatives right across the country have been telling me they are angry at being locked out of the decision making process, a process which directly impacts on their ability to earn a living or participate in lawful recreational pursuits.
“The decision to suspend the importation of the Adler A110 was made without consulting firearms owners or industry representatives and was further proof that the system is broken.
“The Nationals have fought hard to ensure there is genuine and meaningful consultation with shooters and industry and we are grateful that the Minister for Justice Michael Keenan has listened and acted.
“Australia’s more than 800,000 licenced firearms users are not terrorists or criminals, they are responsible law-abiding members of our community and part of a broader industry that contributes in excess of $1 billion a year to Australia’s economy.
“The Nationals accept that the use of firearms must be regulated and that owners need to be responsible citizens, but licenced shooters do not need more red tape, they must be treated with respect and their very real concerns must be heard – the Minister’s decision ensures this will now happen.
“This newly established Industry Reference Group will be made up of highly experienced individuals and organisations who will add a great deal of knowledge and expertise to the review of the NFA, including issues of the lack of harmonisation between states and gaps in data collection.”