WA’s mental health plan slammed by Shooters Union

The most anti-gun state in Australia is at it again, with Western Australia announcing it will implement mandatory mental health checks for gun licence owners both at initial application and regularly throughout the licensing period.

The news, which broke on Sunday morning, has come as a complete surprise to shooting organisations in the state and elsewhere in the country.

None of them were apparently consulted about the changes prior to the announcement by Police Minister Paul Papalia – an announcement which of course included the obvious and tired canards about “community safety”.

Shooters Union WA state advocate Steve Harrison slammed the proposal as absolutely ridiculous, calling it completely unworkable and yet another attack on law-abiding shooters from a government which had repeatedly shown it held gun owners in nothing but contempt.

“I don’t even know where to start with how terrible this idea is,” he said.

“All this is going to do is further stigmatise mental health issues and punish licensed gun owners who have done nothing wrong.

“It’s already incredibly difficult for people who need mental health support or treatment to access it due to a lack of providers – so who does the government think will be doing these mental health clearances?”

Mr Harrison also questioned the practicalities of compulsory checks especially in remote regional areas of the enormous state.

“And let’s not even get into the discriminatory and, dare I say it, racist impact this would have in rural areas. There’s not exactly a lot of psychologists in rural Aboriginal settlements to sign off on the local hunters having a rifle or shotgun, is there?”

He noted that WA Police officers – who carried firearms on duty – were not subject to mental health checks during their time as officers unless they joined a specialist unit like the Tactical Response Group or the Dog Squad.

“If it’s too difficult for WAPOL to evaluate their staff annually, how do they expect members of the community to manage it?” he asked.

He said the Shooters Union would be working hard to have the requirements stopped. 




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Royce Wilson

Royce is something rare in Australia: A journalist who really likes guns. He has been interested in firearms as long as he can remember, and is particularly interested in military and police firearms from the 19th Century to the present. In addition to historical and collectible firearms, he is also a keen video gamer and has written for several major newspapers and websites on that subject.