Firearms owners in Victoria have been threatened yet again by Victoria Police. This time the Licensing and Regulation Division emailed Victorian firearms owners to say they will “reprimand, suspend or cancel” licences of registered firearms owners who blatantly and deliberately breach the current directives of the state’s Chief Health Officer.
But what does COVID-19 have to do with firearms? Why target firearm licences as opposed to fishing licences, drivers’ licences or any other professional or recreational licence? SSAA Victoria is already challenging the legal principle of this new policy and the implications it will have for Victorian law. On the face of it this seems like an over-reach from police and, what’s worse, it’s not the first time.
Earlier in the pandemic we had to lobby to have the Queensland Government re-open gun shops after a knee-jerk reaction to close them resulted in dire consequences for the many licenced firearms owners who rely on them. Thankfully, common sense and our lobbying eventually prevailed.
But there’s more. Back in March, firearms were unfairly targeted in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia when those State Governments chose to add additional restrictions on firearm sales for sporting and recreational purposes. On March 31, Victorian police minister Lisa Neville said the measures were to “keep the community safe”, saying there had been a doubling of attempts to access certain firearms and ammunition.
But as SSAA National CEO Tim Bannister pointed out: “Again we’ve been made a cheap scapegoat to be kicked in the guts. We of all people are probably the most legally and socially responsible in Australia - we have to be by law.”
So again we’re left wondering what COVID-19 has to do with firearms and firearm licences? “No other segment of society is facing additional punitive measures for breaching current COVID-19 restrictions. Yet again it would appear legally licensed firearms owners are being singled out and being treated unfairly,” said a SSAA Victoria spokesperson. “Why are the same standards and demands not made of Victorians in other sports or recreational pursuits?”
Already some firearms owners have had their licences challenged after receiving fines for breaching Stage 4 COVID-19 restrictions and SSAA Victoria is looking into these cases at this very moment. Don’t get us wrong, we support the directives issued by the Victorian CHO, we’re just baffled by why firearms are constantly being targeted. It seems like an emotional response when all we’ve ever asked for is logical and fact-based policy making.
If you’re a SSAA Victoria member who has lost or been threatened with losing your firearms licence due to breaching COVID-19 restrictions, please contact SSAA Victoria. The Association is ready, willing and able to fight unjust treatment of shooters.