Rural initiative aims to press home firearms security message

The recent release of Firearm Theft in Australia 2018 compiled by Dr Samantha Bricknell from the Australian Institute of Criminology, has been something of a confirmation that SSAA and our members have been taking the message of responsible firearms’ security and storage seriously.

Given the Australian population increase in the 10 years since the previous report was released, there appears to have been no real change to the percentage of firearms stolen per head of population but it’s clear there has been a noticeable shift in the focus of such crimes from urban-based firearms thefts where most of our members reside to peri-urban, regional and remote areas where perpetrators believe they have a lesser chance of detection purely through the tyranny of distance. It was also noted the level of security where stealing did occur had increased since the last report was issued.

Our own data supplied by SSAA Insurance Brokers indicated members with SSAA Firearms Insurance had a remarkably low claim rate for firearm loss through theft, with only 0.04 per cent of SSAA Insurance Brokerage customers having made theft claims in the past 12 months.

Of course it’s never a desirable situation where any firearm could fall into the wrong hands. As the authorities themselves will admit, it’s almost impossible to prevent determined thieves from conducting their unlawful business but victim blaming, which is often a shallow response to a difficult problem where reasonable precautions have been taken, is certainly not the answer.

We can, as we have proved, reduce the opportunity and likelihood of these criminals succeeding and through our long-running SSAA ‘Secure Your Gun Secure Your Sport’ campaign and members’ support we believe we’ve had a positive impact on this issue through education.

To take this initiative to the next level and because of its demonstrated knowledge, SSAA has developed a rural firearm security campaign which it plans to discuss with the Federal Government. The initiative would continue to improve the safe storage of firearms and aid in reducing the amount of thefts in regional and rural communities.

On another positive note I recently had the pleasure of a refreshing conversation with a member whose children are coming to an age where they can use and be trained in the safe and responsible use of firearms. Despite the programs and initiatives which all SSAA organisations take to promote and provide for junior firearms training and involvement, this member was taking personal responsibility for creating his own plan and program to ensure his children would be, as part of their whole of life education, properly exposed to firearms to teach them safety, personal responsibility, focus, respect for people they interact with and respect for the law.

We quite often, through any number of factors, find we all too readily leave interaction and life education of our children and grandchildren to others. Exposure to and responsible, safe use of firearms is something we can so easily do, supported by the many SSAA junior programs. If there doesn’t appear to be an active junior program at your local branch, I urge you to become involved and solicit the willing support from SSAA state and national associations.

A great place to start is by supporting a junior to join SSAA directly or linking them up through the SSAA ‘Sponsor a Junior’ campaign with all the information available on the website here. After months of lockdown, what better way to encourage youngsters outside to enjoy a great Australian sport and for us to nurture a legacy.

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