Following on from last week's fuss over the imminent arrival on the Australian market of the Adler lever action shotgun, authorities have this week suggested that Aussie shooters may be forced to hand back thousands of lever-action guns if moves to reclassify the firearms go ahead.
According to a report in the Weekly Times, Federal and state governments have said they will look at reclassifying the guns in light of the new seven-shot lever-action shotgun due to enter the Australian market.
A senior government official said the mooted change may be made retrospective, which could lead to a buyback of the thousands of lever-action rifles and shotguns already legally owned by Australian shooters.
The issue has come to a head after it was revealed last week that more than 6600 Australia shooters had ordered the Category A Turkish-made Adler A110 seven-shot lever-action shotgun, which senior police describe as “rapid fire”.
Police are leading the push to “recategorise” lever-action into the restricted Category C gun class and away from the general Category A.
The Weekly Times can reveal the national Firearms Policy Working Group was already planning to reclassify lever-action firearms even before the Adler’s impending arrival.
Victorian Police Minister Wade Noonan said high-capacity firearms, such as the Adler shotgun, are “already under active consideration” by the national Firearms Policy Working Group.
Mr Noonan said the group was looking at the classification of firearms under the 1996 National Firearms Agreement.
There are almost 42,000 lever-action firearms in Victoria already owned by licensed shooters. Of those, just 1063 are Category A lever-action shotguns.
In 1996, almost 700,000 semiautomatic rifles and shotguns were handed in by shooters and destroyed when the Howard government first introduced the nation’s strict gun laws after the Port Arthur massacre.
Mr Noonan said acting Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Tim Cartwright “has raised his concerns that this weapon — and others like it — are no longer appropriate for a Category A classification”.
The Victorian Shooters and Fishers Party, which has two votes in the Legislative Council, took its support for the existing gun laws to Premier Andrew’s office last week.
“The Adler shotguns by all definitions are Category A firearms and should remain in that category,” a party spokesman said.