Useless ammo law to hit shooters in March

From 4 March it will become harder to buy a firearm and ammunition in NSW as a new ammunition control law comes into effect, forcing a new burden of bureaucracy on shooters and dealers.

Not only will shooters have to produce their firearms licence, as they currently do, they must also show proof of their name and address to dealers when buying ammo and bring proof that they legally possess a firearm that takes the ammunition.

In the case of handgun owners, from 8 April, they will also be required specifically to show the the firearm’s registration papers and the permit to acquire (PTA) for that handgun.

Additionally, when shooters buy new firearms, they will have to know exactly which gun they are buying before applying for a PTA. The PTA must specify the make, model, calibre and registration or serial number of the gun.

And in a final twist, the requirement for a “good reason” has suddenly be put back on PTA application forms, probably in response to Greens MP David Shoebridge’s claims in the past few days that police were not enforcing this requirement.

The Shooters and Fishers Party, along with other shooting bodies, has launched a campaign to stop the changes being implemented, calling on shooters to bombard their local MPs with letters of complaint. 

SFP MLC Robert Brown said it appeared that the police bureaucracy had taken matters into own hands in formulating requirements, but that they have not followed what was intended with the Act.

The Firearms Amendment (Ammunition Control) Act passed NSW parliament several months ago and was roundly criticised because it will not prevent ammunition falling into the hands of the criminals it purports to target, and this fact was even acknowledged by the bill’s supporters in the debate.

However, the new law will create new lists of firearm owners’ names, addresses and the calibres of firearms they own, lists that many believe will become high-value targets for criminals who will then use them to steal guns.

These lists will be kept by firearm dealers, not in an encrypted database away from relatively easy access.

Dealers will also be required to record how much ammunition a buyer purchases.

Employees and business partners of shooters will, in some circumstances, be eligible for a permit allowing them to buy ammunition on behalf of their employer or business partner.

However, the promised concession to farmers – that their family members would be eligible for such a permit – appears to have been left out of the new process, so unless a farmer’s spouse is officially a business partner or employee, the farmer may be forced to make special trips to ammunition sellers personally – a major imposition for those who live out of town and do not go in regularly.

Firearms Registry staff appear to be in the dark about the details of the scheme and are unable to answer shooters’ questions about aspects of the new law. They also seem to be unaware that the Firearms Registry has published information about the Act.

New PTA forms are not yet available, but the current version will be valid until 8 April.

Meanwhile, the registry has announced that it will encrypt emails it sends containing personal information, in a bid to tighten security for firearm owners. Emails containing sensitive information will be password protected.

For details of the new ammunition purchasing requirements and encrypted emails, see the NSW Police Firearms Registry website.




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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.