As we come to the end of another busy year, it is clear that the SSAA has a vital role to play in protecting the interests of sporting shooters and recreational hunters, now more than ever. In the past month alone, SSAA National and the state and territory SSAA branches joined forces in a counter-attack against a flawed and mischievous report, circulated by known anti-gun advocates.
The opportunistic report into Australia’s gun laws was a thinly veiled attempt to force further restrictions on law-abiding firearm owners, for no other purpose than to make our chosen recreation just that much harder in which to participate. The SSAA Legislative Action department coordinated our response, which has since been distributed widely to agencies including key government departments, politicians, media and international counterparts. I encourage you to read and share our full response The SSAA also continues to play a key role in international discussions about the shooting sports and firearm issues, as part of the World Forum on Shooting Activities (WFSA). I, along with International Delegate Bob Green and CEO Tim Bannister, represented the SSAA and supported our New Zealand friends as they hosted the recent WFSA meeting. These meetings prove valuable and resourceful while giving the leading shooting associations the chance to compare notes and discuss similar issues faced around the globe.
Reflecting on 2017, your SSAA also played a pivotal role on the domestic political stage. After 18 months of meetings, phone calls, emails and written submissions with the government, the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) review finally concluded. Despite a concerted push by anti-gun groups to further restrict our freedoms, the only major change was the disappointing decision to re-categorise lever-action shotguns. Nevertheless, the SSAA managed to weather the storm and prevent any further changes.
The other positive that came out of the NFA review was the national firearms amnesty, which was pleasingly based on a model that we recommended. This allowed the sale or registration of legal firearms, instead of instant destruction. The amnesty, which captured more than 50,000 items, was declared a success by the government and we congratulate them on listening to our sage advice.
It also appears that we have had some success in educating the media. While it has been a mixed bag of coverage, ranging from the obviously biased to the refreshingly balanced, there is some evidence that sections of the media are finally accepting that firearms have a legitimate purpose. I spoke about this and other aspects of our recreation in a live, 45-minute interview with the ABC recently, which you can listen to via the SSAA website.
Your SSAA has also made headway with politicians and staffers. Our proactive approach and consistent lobbying is paying off and we will continue our political efforts next year. I would also like to take the opportunity to thank the members of the federal Parliamentary Friends of Shooting group for their public support.
We also look forward to hosting the 2018 SSAA SHOT Expos in Sydney and Perth, with the 2017 Expos in Brisbane and Melbourne proving it is indeed the premier event for sporting shooters, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. As this event continues to grow in popularity, so too do the SSAA branches and clubs, with more than 400 clubs and ranges across the country.
Of course, we would not be able to experience such success without the many men and women who support the SSAA: from our members to the volunteers on the ground, to the boards and our staff. On a national level, we recently bid farewell to a staff member of thirteen years, as Kaye Jenkins moved on from her role as Editor of this magazine. I thank her for her dedication and service to the SSAA.
As interest in our recreation continues to grow, I am pleased to report that the SSAA is now the strongest and biggest we have ever been. This is great news as we head into our 70th year. As we wind up another busy year, I wish all our members and their families a fantastic Christmas break.