Fresh from a meeting with senior federal government officials, it is evident that 2015 will continue to be a year of political challenges for the SSAA and licensed firearm owners. While we are cautiously optimistic about what the future holds, there is no doubt that our sport and chosen pastime will face scrutiny from our nation’s legislators during the coming months.
As members may already know from statements on our online platforms, the SSAA attended a meeting with senior federal Attorney-General Department officials last month and were assured that the ban on the importation of the Adler lever-action shotgun is purely temporary until further information is gathered. The more pressing issue at hand, however, is the technical review of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) currently underway. This review is said to be primarily because of the report into the Sydney Siege, which included one recommendation regarding the legal firearms market and that was to simplify regulation.
We have also secured a commitment from the federal government for serious consultation to take place before any concrete decisions are made, and we welcome Justice Minister Michael Keenan’s announcement that an Industry Reference Group will be formed to advise the government on the NFA review.
We made it abundantly clear that a succession of bad faith decisions by subsequent governments since Port Arthur has shown a lack of political goodwill to deal with the real issues when it comes to firearms. Governments appear to consistently buckle to the vocal anti-firearms minorities, who use emotion and scaremongering tactics to skew the reality of the situation.
Going forward, we call on governments, both at the federal and state levels, to acknowledge the real issues, including seriously addressing the illegal drug problem, which we understand would make a significant majority of issues surrounding illegal firearms go away almost overnight.
Any government failing to make it their responsibility to tackle the illicit firearms market now have the chance to demonstrate good faith. Governments should be reminded that they have nothing to fear from legitimate firearm owners, as we are the ones who have been closely scrutinised and approved by the police to own and use firearms.
As the number of licensed firearm owners increases, it is also important to remember that the number of injuries from firearms has, in fact, decreased. Shooting is a safe, enjoyable sport that almost anyone can enjoy, and it should not be subjected to more onerous legislation that does nothing to address the illicit market.
It has been pleasing to see that many of our members have contacted us to ask how they can assist in helping our cause. SSAA members individually can contribute by making contact with their local politician in a polite manner, bringing issues of concern to their attention and reminding them that your vote is reliant on how they respond to your concerns. Firearms legislation is enacted at a state level; therefore, your state representatives are also an important point of contact when raising issues with firearms legislation or regulation.
This issue cannot be left to the SSAA National office to tackle on its own, as it is very much a state issue.
No doubt by the time this goes to print, the situation would have evolved and we would have had further meetings. We will endeavour to continue to bring you the latest information via our website and Facebook page. Once again, I thank our members for your ongoing support of the SSAA as we continue to stay true to our primary role: to protect shooters.