March 2011 President message
SSAA National engages with Government
This month, we have submitted our response to the Federal Government’s consultation paper entailing various proposed changes to firearms importation. We welcomed the opportunity to submit, but pointed out that despite written regulations and rules, the SSAA believes there are exceptions to every rule. Further to this, the power to allow exemptions should be available to the Attorney-General’s Department and those within this department to exert when deemed appropriate. There is no amount of regulation that can account for every firearm, accessory or ammunition.
I and SSAA National are strongly of the view that it is an individual who is responsible for their actions, not the tool or the implement they use. In addition, it must be stated that according to our plethora of records and statistics, it is almost always an unlicensed individual utilising an unregistered firearm who commits firearm crimes. The reality is that rarely does the criminal attempt to legally import firearms parts and accessories; they do it by underhanded methods.
With that said, we submitted the paper in good faith in the understanding that Customs officials require practical and manageable regulations to prevent prohibited items from entering our country. Our submission is jointly aimed at protecting the interests of our members and the continuance of community safety.
The Customs consultation paper had 32 proposals of change, some of which were merely administrative, others that were quite positive for the sporting shooter and recreational hunter, and some that were based on a misunderstanding of community safety. As I said earlier, a firearm does not commit a crime. A licensed shooter rarely commits a crime according to the Australian Institute of Criminology’s own statistics and whether a lawful person owns a .22 rimfire rifle or a tank is irrelevant. The lawful firearms owner acts lawfully. It is with this philosophy that we have submitted our paper.
An example of a poor proposal would be a suggested ban on the importation of .25 ACP-calibre ammunition simply because the handgun in which it is chambered is no longer permitted for club use. This ignores the fact that collectors may well wish to import it. There are also those in the Australian community who have exemptions outside blanket club use regulations. This is a proposal the SSAA rejected outright.
An example of a sensible proposed change is the opening up of the importation of semi-automatic shotguns for clay target events beyond those run by the ACTA. We take nothing away from the ACTA in enabling its members to shoot with semi-automatic shotguns, but it is equitable that other clay target competitions, including those from the SSAA, can also utilise the appropriate firearms, particularly when competing on a national and international level.
And in regard to international competition, we would welcome the proposed change to include New Zealand sports shooters to more easily bring in their sports and hunting firearms. As can be attested by the November 2010 Pacific Regional Shooting Championships, we love nothing better than challenging our Kiwi brothers and sisters on the range.
You can read our response in full on the Capital News section of the SSAA National website at www.ssaa.org.au
SSAA National President