It has been an exciting month for the sport of shooting. Our chosen recreation was widely celebrated by the mainstream media for a change, as the Australian Shooting Team tasted success at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. I, like many of you, watched the shooting competitions with keen interest and applauded our athletes, who notched up admirable scores.
With three gold medals, five silver and one bronze, Australian shooters were impressive to watch. It was also fantastic to see the skills of other Commonwealth countries on display. One of the standouts for me was Canadian full-bore competitor Robert Pitcairn. At almost 80 years of age he is the epitome of our sport, showing that it truly is for people of all ages and abilities.
Following international events like the Commonwealth Games, there is always a surge in interest in our sport. The SSAA is proud to be the seeding ground for our elite shooters. In fact, we are often the first point of entry to the sport for new shooters. As part of our 70th birthday celebrations in April, I encouraged you to promote sports shooting to your friends and family. As we march towards 200,000 members, let’s continue educating others about our sport. I am thrilled to report that more than 1000 members have joined us in the past month. Let’s keep it going!
Our SSAA Legislative Action lobbying team has been proactive in holding positive discussions with politicians. Our team has continued meeting with representatives from various parties, both in Canberra and in their electorates. These include Law Enforcement Minister Angus Taylor MP, Shadow Justice Minister Clare O’Neil, Bob Katter MP, Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie, Shadow Border Protection Minister Shayne Neumann, Senator David Leyonhjelm and Ian Goodenough MP, to name but a few.
We favour a pragmatic and evidence-based approach to advocacy. This approach was used recently, when we relied purely on evidence to demonstrate that the recall of the Riverman OAF rifle, because it somehow closely resembles the Stoner CQB Mod 2 Rifle, was a flawed opinion. At the same time, we are not afraid to call out those who slur legitimate shooters, wittingly or unwittingly.
Activist group GetUp! Australia received an open letter from us about its highly offensive petition to “Stop the Gun Lobby”. As we explained, the online petition casts unfair aspersions about the character of law-abiding firearms owners, while promoting an autocratic approach to policy making. The SSAA will not back down on our view that the focus should always be on the illegal use of firearms by criminals.
Along with holding groups to account and educating politicians, we keep a close eye on the relevant government departments. Our SSAA-LA team have exposed exaggerated gun seizure claims made by the Australian Federal Police and former Justice Minister Michael Keenan. Disappointingly, it has taken almost six months for the AFP commissioner to confirm our original story about the seizures, including his unfortunate slur regarding the credibility of the Shooter magazine. As always, our door remains open for consultation with all politicians and bureaucrats.
Although the Commonwealth Games have ended, we are eagerly anticipating the next SSAA SHOT Expo to be held in Sydney next month. Taking place on June 23-24 at the Rosehill Racecourse, it really is the best event for keen shooters, hunters and outdoor enthusiasts. If you have not attended one of our expos yet, I encourage you to get along. I will!