PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE QUEENSLAND WEAPONS ACT

Written on the 3 September 2010 by Shooters Union Queensland

Shooters Union Qld, and most other shooting groups have initiated a campaign against the proposed changes to the Queensland Weapons Act. A significant wall of secrecy surrounded the review of the Weapons Act.

Due to an overwhelming response from Queensland’s Law Abiding Firearm Owners, the Queensland Government decided to do the “right thing” and undertook to release a Draft Consultation Bill and Regulation. We commend the Government on this decision. Publication of the documents occurred on 4 August 2010. Click here to go straight to the document links at the bottom of this page for further published information.

Unfortunately the issues raised by the Shooters Union are still contained within the draft legislation. Most of the proposed changes are simply misguided, poorly targeted and impose unjust and unnecessary burdens on Queensland’s Law Abiding Firearm Owners. The current proposals do not reflect any of the key recommendations made by Shooting organisations. The consultation process undertaken over the last three years could be best described as very poor.

Shooters Union Queensland supports and encourages government to implement effective and targeted regulation of people who misuse weapons. However the current proposals impose unjust and unnecessary burdens on an already tightly regulated and law abiding segment of the Queensland community without any increase in public safety.

What key changes are being proposed to the Weapons Act 1990?

  1. Participation requirements for Category C shotguns
  2. Greater red-tape for the storage and transportation of guns
  3. Registration of permanently deactivated category A, B &C firearms and Antique handguns
  4. Registration of imitation weapons
  5. Re-categorisation of weapons and NO compensation payable by the Government if a firearm is re-categorised
  6. Enlarged discretionary powers for the administration of the Act
  7. Licensing cost increases

1. What does it mean to have participation requirements for Category C shotguns?

It is proposed to require a Category C shotgun licensee who possesses his or her firearm for sport or target shooting to compete in four (4) competitions per year (Section 81 draft Bill). This is a small but clear move down the path where participation conditions are a requirement for virtually all long arm licensees.

2. Storage and transportation of guns

Section 162(c) of the draft Bill requires, at a minimum, that the average licensed shooter possess a secure storage facility in the form of a secure receptacle. The average licensed shooter must store his or her firearm in the secure receptacle (no problems with that). However instead of having the action broken (Section 60(2) Weapons Regulation 1996), the firearm must be temporarily deactivated (section 165 (1)(b) draft Bill). The draft Regulation is diabolical, unless you have a bolt action firearm and can remove the bolt AND store the bolt separately (Section 7 draft Regulation), you must fit a trigger lock (or an additional locking mechanism), even when stored in a safe. You must also make sure you don’t have any tools lying around your secure storage facility otherwise you could go to jail for 2 years (section 165 (1)(c) draft Bill).

In addition, shooters will also have to fit trigger locks (unless it is a bolt action where the bolt can be removed) when transporting firearms(section 167 (1) draft Bill). There are no public safety, nor logical reasons for these changes. This will mean virtually every shooter whom has an air rifle, .22 and an old shotgun will have to purchase multiple trigger locks (or additional locking mechanisms) and probably another safe for the bolts. Many licensed shooters have 3-4 firearms. At an average cost of $30 for a good quality lock this means a cost of between $90 -$120. As this provision will apply to all shooters regardless of when their licence was issued (section 60(3) draft Regulation), assuming 50% of firearms are bolt action that means a cost to Queensland’s shooting community (approximately 150 000 shooters) of between $6.7M to $9M for absolutely zero public safety increase.

Remember these guns are already stored in safes. These are unjust and unnecessary proposals. Queensland shooters comply with the law and make sure their guns are locked away in a proper safe. Will the community be safer with Queensland’s Law Abiding Firearm Owners fitting trigger locks? Do you think criminals will fit trigger locks to their illegally possessed, carried and used firearms?

3. Registration of permanently deactivated category A, B& C firearms and Antique handguns

Deactivated Category A,B & C firearms and Antique handguns will become regulated items. They must be registered (section 253 and 244 draft Bill) and stored safely(sections 258 & 249 draft Bill). Many people in Queensland possess broken slug guns and old hunting rifles. These non-functioning firearms pose absolutely no threat to public safety nor have they posed a threat to public safety since the Weapons Legislation commenced in 1990. Has the Queensland Community been at risk for 20 years?

4. Registration of imitation weapons (i.e. toy guns)

The proposed legislation provides that an imitation weapon is a reasonable copy of a weapon, and could reasonably taken to be a weapon and can not be discharged (section 11 draft Bill). Shooters Union Queensland understands the intent behind this proposal is to reduce the incidence of replicas being used to hold up stores or to commit other crimes. However, the question begs itself, “Why on earth would a criminal intent on holding up a store bother to register his or her replica handgun?” A recent Courier-mail report (4/8/10) quoted a Government representative as saying ”we just want to know where they (imitation guns) are”. As well intentioned as this comment may be the statement demonstrates pure ignorance of reality. It has become very clear in recent weeks that criminals who use weapons to commit crimes don’t tell the police where their real guns are let alone where their imitation guns are. The proposed approach is wrong headed. Shooters Union Queensland suggests minimum prison sentences for people who use any sort of weapon to hold up stores or commit crimes and greater funding for the Queensland Police Service to field more officers on the street.

5. Recategorisation of Weapons – NO compensation payable for recategorised guns.

The current Weapons Categories Regulation 1997 is a straightforward document. It ensures firearms of particular types are clearly designated into the various categories. It is easy for the average shooter to read, understand and know his or her responsibilities. However the proposed legislation allows a firearm to be classed as a Category D weapon if it appears (section 7(1)(b) draft Weapons Category Regulation) to duplicate a Category D weapon or is an imitation of a weapon (section 7(4) draft Weapons Category Regulation). If you possess any sort of rifle or shotgun and it appears to look like a Category D weapon then it may very well be classified as a Category D weapon. If you are not licensed for a Cat D Firearm (and very few shooters are) then you will have the firearm confiscated by the Government but will not receive compensation (section 386 draft Bill). This is a reprehensible turn of events and once again provides unjustifiable operational discretion to those administering the Act and erodes a person’s rights to their property.

6. Powers to administer the Act

The proposal provides carte blanche control to persons administering the Act (sections 59 and 60 draft Bill). The powers under the current Act already cause much angst to the average Law Abiding Firearm Owner. Problematically the draft Regulation is almost larger than the Bill. The Regulation provides the “devil in the detail” or the “operational detail”. As you would be aware from your own lives and occupations, quite often the “devil in the detail” is very difficult to determine. It is for this reason, much of the contents of the Regulation should be returned to the Act. This will ensure certainty for those affected by the Act. It will also ensure full and proper Parliamentary scrutiny should any further changes be proposed. Parliamentary scrutiny is virtually absent when Regulations are amended. The current proposal provides even more power and discretion in the administration of the Act regarding subjective decisions about licenses, licence conditions, licence renewals and permit to acquire approvals etc. The goal posts are already moved on a regular basis and will only become worse under the current proposal.

7. Why have licensing fees doubled?

No one knows. Regrettably this simply appears to be an unjustifiable tax leveled on Queensland shooters. As of 1 August 2010 a new 5 year firearms licence costs $210.75 including both the licence and application fee, while a permit to acquire a firearm now costs $30.00. Renewing a firearms licence for five years will cost $131.25 (up from $58.50). These increases will net a windfall of almost $5 million dollars for the police budget with no increase to public safety. This is all purely about administrative law enforcement and does not focus on criminals who misuse weapons.

Why should I write an email or letter?

Letters from individuals are the most effective way to let the Government know how a particular issue is received by the community. Shooters live in all parts of Queensland. It is important for us to have an effective voice. Do NOT rely on your mate to write. The combined voice of Queensland’s Law Abiding Firearm Owners resulted in the Government releasing a consultation draft of the Weapons Bill and Weapons Regulation. We commend the Government for this wise decision. If you have already written to the Government, please resubmit your submission to the Weapons Review Secretariat.

If all 150,000 plus Queensland shooters and their families write to the Weapons Review Secretariat, our voice will be heard and hopefully common sense will prevail. Forward this information and a link to www.shootersunion.com.au to at least 10 fellow shooters and encourage them to send it to 10 of their fellow shooters. See how quickly this can snowball?

What can I do to ensure the Government does not enact these unfair and unjust proposals?

You must write a letter or send an e-mail to the Weapons Act Review Secretariat, the Premier, Deputy Premier and the Police Minister. If you do not, you will lose more of your freedoms. It is about time the Government realised Queensland’s licensed shooters are sick and tired of being marginalised. We will stand up for ourselves, our sport, our occupation and other lawful uses of firearms. We strongly object to the proposed changes.

How do I write an email or letter?

Think about how you would discuss this issue with a friend at the pub, church, sporting club or shopping centre. Now just write it down as you said it. Make sure you always include your name and address. That way you will be taken seriously. If you are concerned about this process, please click here.

What are the key points that my letter should include?

  • NO participation requirements for long arms of any description.
  • NO increased storage requirements – NO trigger locks
  • NO increased transportation requirements
  • NO registration of permanently deactivated category A, B &C firearms and Antique handguns
  • NO registration of imitation weapons
  • NO recategorisation of weapons
  • Remove the “No Compensation” provision.
  • Limit and reduce the discretionary powers for the administration of the Act
  • Basic licence conditions to be removed from the Regulation and included in the Act
  • Licensing cost increases – cancel1 August 2010 fee increase.
  • The Government should go back to the drawing board and review the Weapons Act using an open, transparent and consultative approach instead of imposing its policy positions upon the shooting community with a sham consultation process.

Recent publications

The Courier-Mail – 4 August 2010 – Toy guns to be licenced
ABC Stateline – 13 August 2010 – War game operators fear new gun laws
Draft Weapons Bill
Draft Weapons Regulation
Qld Govt Submission Web-site



Copyright 2010 Shooters Union (Qld) Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 


Author: Shooters Union Queensland


 
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