Fellow Commonwealth countries unite to protect our sport

The SSAA has a long and proud history of representing Australian firearms owners on the world stage, boasting official Non-Governmental Organisation status in the eyes of the United Nations and membership of the World Forum on Shooting Activities (WFSA). When it comes to issues affecting firearms and our chosen recreation, understanding the globalised world in which we operate and knowing the challenges faced by other likeminded associations gives the SSAA the upper hand. These close ties with fellow shooting associations aid us in developing tried and tested strategies best suited to the Australian context.

To cement our friendships and further our allegiances, the SSAA recently met with three shooting representative groups from the fellow Commonwealth countries of Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. With the aim of discussing a range of issues affecting our sport and pastime, the series of meetings proved invaluable as we compared similarities in some of the challenges we as sporting groups are facing internationally, along with critical information-sharing.

Our meeting with South Africa’s Professor Brian Reilly, who heads the Department of Nature Conservation at the Tshwane University of Technology in Pretoria, gave us first-hand insight into trophy hunting and the backlash faced earlier this year. Professor Reilly, who is also vice president of the South African Hunters and Game Conservation Association, recently spoke at the SSAA-backed Conservation Through the Sustainable Use of Wildlife Conference on ecotourism and discussed reasons why Australia has been unable to achieve similar success with our indigenous animals.

Another face-to-face meeting with Canadian Shooting Sports Association (CSSA) executive director Tony Bernardo explored the similarities between our two cultures, with both nations having common historical ties. Mr Bernardo shared his years of experience in dealing with the media and the politics involved in shooting, particularly given Canada’s close proximity to the United States, while recounting the success story of how the CSSA successfully campaigned for the disbanding of the longarms registry. The SSAA has long pointed to the Canadian experience with the longarms registry as further evidence that firearms registration on top of licensing has no effect on gun-related crime, with firearms registries coming at an expensive cost for no public safety benefit.

Closer to home, our counterparts at the largest voluntary shooting-related organisation in New Zealand is a group the SSAA has certainly established strong ties with. The SSAA and the Council of Licenced Firearm Owners (COLFO) have already signed a landmark partnership to protect pacific firearm owners and regularly host shooting competitions.

Recent meetings with COLFO representatives Nicole McKee and Bill O’Leary allowed us to gain insight into the current New Zealand political situation, with an ongoing inquiry into firearms currently taking place. The SSAA provided a submission to this inquiry at the invitation of COLFO. As the SSAA often points out to our policymakers, the New Zealand experience with firearms shows similar statistical trends with a very different regulatory environment.

These valuable relationships with other shooting organisations allow the SSAA to draw on the different experiences with firearms legislation, but also cement our role as the peak shooting body representing Australian shooters. In a globalised world, staying abreast of the latest international issues affecting firearms ownership is critical in ensuring we are always on the front foot with our local legislators. The SSAA has a proud history of promoting and protecting the shooting sports since 1948 and will continue to be a key player in both the Australian and international context.

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