Shooters unite to protect our sport in testing times

It has been a rollercoaster few months for Australian shooters. From the highs of the Sydney SSAA SHOT Expo to overcoming challenges facing our Perth event, and from toasting our Commonwealth champions in Parliament House to a frank meeting with an anti-gun group - your SSAA has been at the forefront of it all.

But it was news out of Sydney that shook our tight-knit community last month. The murder of two teenagers tragically shot by their father made headlines, with further revelations he obtained his pistols legally sending shockwaves through our midst. The authorities - and the public - can rightly ask how this tragedy happened in the first place, especially when it’s the authorities who are ultimately responsible for approving all firearm licences and purchases.

Contrary to what the opportunistic anti-gun lobby says, the SSAA has time and time again called for a strengthening of the current processes, such as improved information technology systems to enable real-time checking of licence holders. We are on the public record calling for increased resources for authorities to manage the growing licensing system.

Further, we openly support authorities in enforcing the copious existing laws available to prevent the wrong people from obtaining firearms. We also support better communication and information-sharing between departments. We all have a role to play in addressing the societal issue of domestic violence - and all forms of violence - and the SSAA will continue to cooperate with authorities to get to the bottom of this tragedy as we extend our sympathies to all those affected.

On a positive note, the Association hosted one of the biggest SSAA SHOT Expos in its history, with the Sydney event in June attracting more than 16,000 visitors. Despite the success, the Perth SSAA SHOT Expo faced serious logistical issues that threatened to cancel the event. Thanks to unified and combined lobbying efforts, I am pleased to report the Perth SSAA SHOT EXPO will go ahead on October 13 and 14.

The SSAA also celebrated the achievements of two wonderful young Australian shooters who were toasted by the Parliamentary Friends of Shooting group in Canberra. Laetisha Scanlan and Daniel Repacholi proudly displayed their Commonwealth Games gold medals to supportive politicians and advisors of nearly all persuasions. It was great to see the shooting sports receive bi-partisan support from our policy makers.

For those who subscribe to our email, you’ll be aware we took the time to meet representatives from the Alannah & Madeline Foundation (AMF) for an exchange of views on firearms safety. The meeting provided the opportunity to discuss differing views and air some concerns, particularly with media commentary that we and fellow law-abiding shooters have taken issue with. While we don’t fool ourselves into thinking everyone we meet will share our views, the SSAA will continue to educate the broader community and groups like the AMF about sports shooting.

All of this comes at a time when your SSAA is expanding the competitive shooting department with our latest recruit, Gemma Dunn, appointed as Coaching and Membership Development Manager. Gemma is well known among the shooting community, having represented Australia on multiple occasions. She is tasked with growing the sport at all levels as we march towards 200,000 members in our 70th year. We’ll profile Gemma in next month’s magazine.

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