As an organisation that proudly represents both sporting shooters and recreational hunters, the SSAA has long touted the myriad of benefits that our activities bring to society. Hunting in particular has many tangible benefits, with important culling or pest control activities often carried out by volunteer environmentalists, in our own time, at no cost to the landholder.
While there are numerous studies demonstrating the positive economic, environmental and social benefits that our recreation brings to the nation, these have usually been state-specific. Now, for the first time, a national study examining the economic benefits of hunting will be conducted and funded by the federal government. Pleasingly, Sports and Regional Services Minister Bridget McKenzie chose to announce the news at October’s SSAA SHOT Expo in Perth.
A national hunting study has been a key lobbying initiative of the SSAA, following the 2014 Senate Inquiry into gun-related violence that recommended the government commission a study to measure the benefits of hunting. We have already been working closely with the consulting firm that has been tasked with conducting the study, providing expert advice and information about hunting to ensure it can be a valuable resource once completed.
Going forward, with 80 per cent of our members identifying as hunters, including myself, I encourage you to participate in the study once it is active. We will promote the link to the online survey across our media empire as soon as it goes live, so keep an eye out for more details in coming weeks. It’s a rare and invaluable chance to have your say, directly to the federal government, about one of our primary activities.
The SSAA is also proud to promote the sporting aspect of our Association. Our latest recruitment drive is still airing, with two television commercials broadcasting on channels 7Mate and WinTV. The ‘Join Us’ campaign not only showcases our recreation to the general public, it also invites our fellow Australians of all abilities to have a go at our sport. The two advertisements can be viewed on our SSAATV YouTube channel and shared on social media.
Further positive promotion of our recreation and the firearms industry can be seen in the flesh at our popular SSAA SHOT Expos. The Expo in Perth attracted more than 10,000 visitors and it was great to see so many families in attendance.
The other part of our mantra is to protect firearm owners’ interests. That is why we spoke out against the premise on which a super group, the Australian Gun Safety Alliance, was formed, following its launch at an event hosted by the Parliamentary Friends of Gun Control. Stacked with the usual anti-gun groups, public health advocates and victim support services, the Alliance appears to have been formed to worship the ageing National Firearms Agreement (NFA).
Disappointingly, the group has chosen not to differentiate between ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ firearms or indeed even acknowledge our legitimate shooting activities.
The Parliamentary Friends of Gun Control group, formed by known anti-gun politicians, Labor’s Andrew Leigh MP and Liberal John Alexander MP, have been the only two to publically put their name to the group thus far. In contrast, the Parliamentary Friends of Shooting group has been active for the past two parliaments, attracting members from nearly all sides of the chamber and hosting popular events that educate our elected representatives about sports shooting and hunting.
While the SSAA welcomes an open debate on firearms, revering the NFA, which holds no weight in law and is in desperate need of updating, simply equates to a head-in-the-sand approach. With more than 20 years of data demonstrating ways to improve the NFA for the benefit of one million licensed shooters, and at no risk to public safety, the SSAA will continue to call for evidence-based laws.