• Firearms Lawyer Simon Munslow answers your legal questions.
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Firearms law expert Simon Munslow urges shooters to take action of the recategorisation of lever action firearms.

Those who are following the NFA review will note that in an earlier blog, I spoke positively about submissions put together by the consultancy group.  It appears, however, that, as with many reviews, Parliament may just be going through the motions of consultation and that they have your lever guns very much in their sights.

I note Mr Ron Owen, proprietor of Owen Guns in Gympie, President of the Firearms Owners Association, and a tireless fighter for shooters rights, has sent a circular around that refers to a recent conversation he has had with Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss, leader of the National Party, on the 16 October 2015.

‘’I reminded Warren that when we had first met in 1988, when he was standing for the National Party’s Blue Ribbon seat of Kingaroy, after Premier Jo Belke Petersen retired, that two branches of the Firearm Owners Association, Kingaroy and Gympie, supported two independent candidates against him and that he and the National Party lost. That night, the Police Ministers Bill Gunn ‘Gun laws’ Bill was removed. I reminded him that after John Howard’s gun laws had decimated the National Party (at that time the largest Political Party in Australia), the National’s MPs could travel into Parliament in a minibus. He admitted that the National Party had never recovered, and he said that his current party room echoed what I had been saying. He gave me a compliment by saying that they had not put it so directly as I had, but they had hoped the recommendations due to be handed down in December would not cause them “blood letting” of seats. Then he said, “We had hoped that the result would only mean a change of category, (lever actions  into Category C) but what he had been reading in reports from COAG was that the Police Minister and Commissioners wanted far more restrictions.”

Out of fairness to Mr Truss and the National Party, I contacted Scott Mitchell, the Federal Director of the National Party, who is also a keen shooter, and invited both Scott and Mr Truss to comment. Despite reminders, Mr Truss has not done so.  I can only assume that the above statements are true and correct, and that he does not wish to comment on this matter.

Mr Mitchell did comment.  He informed me that he spent much of last week working on the issue, and ’lot of good work has been done and continues to go on and Warren is now well across the brief’.  Frankly, I would hope so. He should always have been across it because it has such a considerable impact upon country people, representing a necessary tool for farmers, a means of rural recreation, and a source of income for country people.

Unfortunately, he chose not to contact me, so I can only assume that like the NSW and Victorian Police Ministers who are reportedly both blaming their Police Commissioners, and the Qld Police Minister is simply refusing to consult with shooters, that he has battened down for a fight.

Hopefully, he will lift his game accordingly, because his position as quoted above makes a mockery of the excellent work done by Senator Bridget McKenzie in Victoria, and is worse than the sell out of shooters by the Nationals under Tim Fisher. 

I say worse because Tim Fisher was probably influenced by the emotional events of Port Arthur, and failed to properly and independently research firearms law issues before embarking upon ‘conviction politics’. 

Here we have no such emotional event, and the clear criminological evidence after 19 years is that the legislation has no effect, so why go along with what the Liberals and bureaucrats propose?

Warren Truss’s position, as reported by Ron Owen, is clearly at odds with his own party policy on Firearms Law, which reads as follows.  Here I quote paragraphs 2-5 without editing.

“The Nationals recognise that shooting is a significant and legitimate industry and that laws and regulations that impact on the industry should be fair and applied in a way that is as unobtrusive as possible.

Consequently it is important that Governments have a full understanding of how laws, regulations and government processes affect importers, retailers and consumers and consult with bodies representing these groups about the impact on them of current and proposed legislation and procedures.

The Nationals are committed to supporting processes and mechanisms which enable the Federal Government to consult with recreational shooters and hunters and the firearms industry on matters of interest to them and to ensure that regulation operates effectively and productively.

We also believe that laws, regulations and policies affecting recreational shooters and hunters and the firearms industry should be based on facts and not ideological dogma. Research and data should be robust and comprehensive.”

His approach also falls foul of a central principle of National Party Policy, which incidentally is every Australians’ birthright, namely ‘a fair go’.

Why he would choose to do this, when he admitted to Mr Owen that his Party Room was against him, one can only speculate.

Hopefully, in light of Mr Mitchell’s comments, we should be able to see an improvement in political performance by the National Party, however, given that Mr Truss chose not to respond and correct any misbeliefs that we might have, we shall have to wait and see.  

No doubt you are all finding this as distressing, but we can do something. We need to do something, because this is not just about Adler shotguns.

It is also about:

  • A ‘penal colony mentality’ where Police Ministers and Politicians approve whatever policy their Commissioners advance in respect to firearms and law and order matters.
  •  Where we are regarded as a group that they may legitimately discriminate against, because unlike other minorities, we are not protected by UN convention, indeed, the contrary is the case.
  • Bureaucrats are able to get away with misinforming politicians about the capabilities of a lever action shotgun and claim that they are ‘new technology’, in order to advance a desired policy change.
  • A failure by Government to properly review the NFA on the basis of its efficiency and effectiveness and wind back those parts of the NFA that have not worked. Thus freeing up money that could more appropriately be spent on the war on terror, the war on drugs, or mental health reform.
  • Opposing a policy of incremental disarmament, where the bureaucracy takes advantage of any argument it can to justify further bans and regulation.

WE CAN STOP IT.

This will mean that aside from the Shooters & Fishers Party or Liberal Democratic Party members, and members who like Senator Bridget McKenzie, or Mr Katter, are prepared to take a stand in respect to this issue, we adopt a campaign of VOTING AGAINST SITTING STATE AND FEDERAL MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT until such time as all parties choose to adopt a more sensible position in respect to Firearms Laws.

This will have the effect of rolling over marginal seats, or those seats with high shooter populations in them, effectively making a second term in office impossible for any government unless they properly review the legislation.

Circulate this Blog far and wide.  You will hear more from me on this.

Simon Munslow

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