Earlier this month, I urgently called on the SSAA’s 180,000-plus members to express concerns to their Police Ministers, as well as their State and Federal representatives, about the lack of information from the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) review.
As our SSAA Legislative Action (SSAA-LA) department has reported, the main area of discussion has centred on lever-action shotguns of more than five shots. Such issues have been overshadowed by emotional rhetoric and a targeted campaign driven by anti-gun groups who have an irrational fear of firearms, both legal and illegal. We have continued to point out that no changes should be made to the NFA in the absence of any evidence, nor should legitimate firearms owners have to bear the brunt of more unintended consequences based purely on emotion or politicking.
Further to this is the widespread, real concern that recategorisation under these circumstances may set a precedent for future unjustified class changes of other firearms, effectively restricting or banning them for sporting shooters. No further information was provided at my latest meeting with Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan last month. Therefore, I implored members via our website, Facebook page and SSAA-LA E-newsletter to urgently contact Police Ministers who were poised to discuss the NFA, with any recommendations then taken to a meeting of Premiers and key Ministers. It appears lever-action shotguns of more than five shots may fall victim to a disingenuous review that masqueraded as a chance to look at the 20-year-old NFA and cut red tape for the legitimate firearms community.
Whatever the outcome, I have made it crystal clear to Minister Keenan that any changes to the NFA devoid of evidence that further inhibits our recreation will not be taken lightly. Our SSAA-LA department will continue to bring you the latest news on this.
In other developments, SSAA National CEO Tim Bannister and I recently met with the CEO and chief scientist of the RSPCA after the possibility of a get-together was discussed at the SSAA-backed Conservation through Sustainable Use of Wildlife Conference in September, where the RSPCA chief scientist Dr Bidda Jones presented. Tim and I accepted the offer to examine potential areas of commonality, while both organisations attempted to clear the air about myths and misinformation. We invited the RSPCA to directly answer a series of questions explaining various aspects of its organisation, which is of interest to our members. This is currently in the works with the SSAA media team. We also responded to a number of its concerns, misunderstandings and misconceptions about legitimate firearms owners and the position of the SSAA.
The SSAA has also expanded our conservation and wildlife management activities, with SSAA Farmer Assist now operational in every state across Australia after Victoria officially launched the program last month. The project connects SSAA members with farmers, enabling landowners to utilise our willing volunteers for pest control activities on their properties.
Finally, in some pleasing news, the SSAA’s Secure Your Gun, Secure Your Sport campaign has been endorsed by New South Wales Deputy Premier and Police Minister Troy Grant and commended by Minister Keenan for the first time. The 2016 venture follows years of work by the SSAA with shooting clubs and gun owners about firearms storage requirements and also seeks to educate the general public about the strict realities of owning a firearm. We issued a nationwide press release about this, which attracted radio and newspaper attention.
Going forward, the SSAA will continue to make representation at all levels of government about issues that affect licensed firearms owners.