The decision by the state and territory premiers and chief ministers to recategorise lever-action shotguns of more than five shots to Category D, without any supporting evidence, is a slap in the face to the nation’s one million law-abiding firearms owners. It is a farcical outcome that has been fuelled by emotional hysteria and blatant ignorance.
This decision, announced following the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting on December 9, paves the way for the Federal Government to lift the import ban on the Adler A110 lever-action shotgun in its seven-shot configuration. However, it ultimately restricts licensed shooters, who have been through the rigorous police checks and balances to obtain the right to firearms ownership, from accessing the seven-shot version of this firearm, based purely on fear-mongering.
There is no detail surrounding the consequences for current owners of these firearms, who have accessed them under a Category A licence as agreed to at the inception of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA). There is also no valid, evidence-based reason as to why this recategorisation has even occurred, particularly when the Law, Crime and Community Safety Council (LCCSC) was due to revisit this issue next year.
We take some consolation from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s comments to the media that the planned nationwide amnesty is not going to be directed at law-abiding firearms owners. He made it clear that this would specially be aimed at removing unregistered firearms. But again, the details of the amnesty and further consequences of recategoristaion remain unclear.
State and territory governments will ultimately wear the political consequences of this decision, which shows a complete lack of leadership and appears to pander to the vocal anti-gun minority. The SSAA does not consider this to be the end of the issue. We will keep our 180,000 members informed of the next step as we rise to protect the future of our growing sport and recreation.