Report by Marcus O’Dean
I was prompted to write a short email to Federal Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie a few days ago in the wake of the Tony Abbott statement around the current NFA Review with regard to the terrorism threat apres Lindt. In the email, I asked what the National Party was doing to sway firstly the Prime Minister and subsequently the Coalition of Police Ministers review of the NFA to consider the 800,000 LAFOs positions and likely reactions to mooted further restrictions against the most law-abiding people in Australia.
In quite short order, I was contacted by Senator McKenzie’s office and asked if I could meet with her in Sydney in a few days. I was very pleasantly surprised at the senator taking the time to be so accessible for a one-on-one discussion. We made a time, we had the meeting and the statement appearing in italics below is the on-record result of that meeting.
If I may venture some observations and impressions that are pertinent to that statement, then shooters may take some heart.
1. In discussions about the Adler shotgun, the overriding impression the Nats held was that the Adler would eventually be made available to Cat A LAFOs, the rider being magazine capacity yet to be determined. The bigger issue by far however, is the Federal review of the National Firearms Agreement, currently in progress.
2. That since 1996, the Nationals have not had a stronger, more focused advocate for licensed shooters; I found this particularly gratifying in light of ineffectual responses in the past, most particularly in the Howard years. Senator McKenzie struck me as being genuine, committed to the cause, well aware of the issues at stake and willing to do what it takes to work in whatever way ethical and possible to counter the negative publicity shooters attract from the media, organisations and politicians in Australia.
3. To do this, she is mobilising, through Nats’ Federal Director Scott Mitchell, efforts in state and federal spheres by sitting Nationals nationwide to swing the debate and subsequent lawmaking efforts by relevant authorities away from the law abiding and against the lawbreakers.
4. We shared the view that licensed shooters find it offensive to be labelled as irresponsible or criminals in waiting. She also made the observation that anti gunners of all political stripes liked to grab the high intellectual ground and look down upon “rednecks” not as people, but as pawns to be disregarded and regulated and she despises this snobbery, having come from humble beginnings herself. Senator McKenzie is an advocate for equality and anti-discrimination in all its forms, including that against LAFOs.
The statement issued by Senator McKenzies office below:
The Federal Nationals will ensure the views of firearms users are heard by the Review of the technical aspects of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) currently underway.
This review is being conducted by the National Firearms Policy Working Group, which comprises relevant Commonwealth, State and Territory agencies, such as the police forces. The review was one of the recommendations of the joint Commonwealth – NSW Review of the Martin Place Siege.
It is important that the NFA review take into account the views of farmers, sporting shooters and other legitimate firearms users as well as the firearms industry. At present, there is no formal mechanism for those groups to put in a view to the review.
Australia’s gun laws are among the most restrictive in the world. Any modifications must therefore be evidence-based and take into account the interests of the legitimate shooting community.
Clearly, there are too many illegal firearms in Australia and police need to be given every possible support in eliminating the illegal ownership and use of firearms.
The Nationals accept that the use of firearms is regulated and that owners need to be responsible citizens. But, licenced shooters must be treated with respect.
We will ensure that the views of industry representatives are heard as part of the Review.
While we have the Shooters and Fishers Party doing their damdest to make inroads in the states into relaxing onerous existing firearm laws, we need to also get behind the efforts that the Nationals are currently making on our behalf on this particular issue. In the end, we are all a team pulling in the same direction.
Meantime, it behoves us all to stay vigilant and stay in touch with our own political representatives , both state and federal, so they remain aware of our concerns.
Make it relevant but stay polite.
PS See the attached article below from this week’s Weekly Times highlighting the need for farmers, sporting shooters, hunters and the firearms industry to have formal input into any Review of the technical aspects of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) which is currently underway.