Absurd ACT law renders suppressors as expensive paperweights

A gunmaker in the Australian Capital Territory can now legally possess suppressors and folding stocks, but he can’t legally use them. As reported by the Canberra Times on July 4, gunmaker Gareth Crook, of GC Precision Developments, located in Canberra, has now been left with a number of very expensive paperweights. The business can legally own the suppressors, but it is illegal for them to use or test the suppressors and foldable stocks they produce.

This all started last year when Victoria Police approached GC Precision Developments with a brief to design rifles to be used by special operations groups. The brief outlined that the rifles would need to be fitted with suppressors and foldable stocks. It is legal for Victoria Police to utilise these items, but a specific act in the ACT forbids their actual use. This has meant that GC Precision Developments will not be able to fulfil its contract and will definitely lose the potential 5000 suppressors, which would have been beneficial for the burgeoning business.

Mr Crook challenged the decision in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal so that the business could gain permits to test and use the prohibited items, but his appeal was rejected. One of the arguments put to the tribunal was that suppressors are used by professional shooters in kangaroo culls, therefore a gunmaker should be able to use suppressors for testing purposes before they are sold on to police. Instead, the tribunal said that suppressors for kangaroo culling are “probably” not legal either.

The absurdity is that police all over Australia use suppressors and foldable stocks but that a gunmaker is not allowed to use them for testing. Worse still is that other gun manufacturers have been given permission to test similar components in the past. For some reason, GC Precision Developments has been singled out, while other gunmakers have been awarded permits.

The case highlights the unpredictability and inconsistency in some firearms-related policymaking. “It’s yet another example of emotion getting in the way of sensible laws about firearms,” said SSAA National CEO Tim Bannister. “Good policy should always be the priority for firearms, not fear-campaigning over technology that some of the public don’t understand. The laws in this matter are nothing short of absurd.”

Adding salt to the wound is the fact that the police may now have to import from overseas rather than support Australian manufacturing.

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