NSW Shooters have received a stay of execution after the ammunition control bill did not go to a vote this week, and there are signs the National Party may be close to turning against its Liberal partners in the Coalition.
The unpopular bill, whose origins lie in the Police Commissioner’s office, has been heavily criticised, with politicians from all sides acknowledging that it will do little or nothing to fight crime.
The bill, which would ban licensed shooters from buying ammunition for any calibre of gun they don’t own, was adjourned on Tuesday and not brought up again yesterday. Nor will it be discussed today, meaning nothing will happen until next week.
No reason was given for the delay, but it does give shooters time to put further pressure on their local MPs over the issue.
Shooters have had a good impact on politicians so far, to the point that Nationals MP Andrew Fraser spoke against the bill in parliament on Tuesday, despite his party’s official support for it.
“Your letters and your pressure on the marginal Liberals, and all the Nats, has definitely got the government into the delay mode,” Shooters and Fishers Party MLC Robert Brown said. “Particularly now that [MPs] Richard Torbay and Greg Piper have made it clear to the government that they will force a recording of the votes, thus exposing all the big-noting Nats that are, errr, ‘threatening’ to cross the floor.”
The bill has worried the National Party, whose rural constituents face unnecessary and unwanted inconvenience and cost because of the bill, which was put forward by the Coalition as a way to help police tackle drive-by shootings and similar crimes in Sydney.
Rural shooters have made it clear to the Nationals that they do not want the ammo law brought in, causing tension within the Coalition. It is one reason the bill was recently amended to allow for some associates of primary producers to get a special permit enabling them to buy ammunition on behalf of the primary producer.
However, this token provision may not have been enough to gain the support of the Nationals, and certainly has not tempered the anger of shooters, who also point out security problems because the bill would require ammunition sellers to keep detailed records of buyers’ personal details, records that would be invaluable to thieves.
As well as Andrew Fraser’s public opposition to the bill, Shootingnews.com.au has learnt that at least one other Nationals MP is considering whether he will support the bill when it goes to a vote.
Another reason for the bill’s delay appears to be the need to sort out some of its provisions before it is enacted.
The police Firearms Registry is said to be struggling with the impending implantation and management of the new system.
“It’s an unworkable bill and a disaster for the Firearms Registry,” SFP MLC Robert Borsak said.
Shooting lobby groups are urging shooters again to contact their local MPs and express their views.
The Sporting Shooters Association in NSW is still actively fighting against the bill.
“SSAA NSW and our friends at the Shooters and Fishers Party have this week commenced an advertising blitz in regional areas,” SSAA NSW executive director Diana Melham said. “We are urging law abiding firearm owners to contact their local MP to oppose this useless bill.
“SSAA NSW supports any legislation that will get illegal guns and the criminals who use them off our streets, but this legislation just won’t work. Even the Premier’s own MPs are openly admitting that.
“It’s time for Premier O’Farrell to listen to his own MPs, listen to law abiding shooters, and scrap the Ammunition Control Bill.”