Northern Territory Police have performed a U-turn on a decision to reclassify certain rifles in the territory, which it said operate like semi-automatics. The announcement to re-categorise the rifles from the least restrictive A and B licence categories into C and D was made late last year.
SSAA (NT) has been lobbying Northern Territory Police and Police Minister Nicole Manison against the reclassification and SSAA member Andrew Armstrong took the matter to the Firearms Appeals Tribunal last month.
The matter heard by the tribunal was the Commissioner’s declaration to reclassify: ‘All linear repeating firearms chambered with rimfire ammunition to be Category C firearms’; and
‘All linear repeating firearms chambered with centrefire ammunition to be Category D firearms’.
“The NT Police representative indicated the Commissioner would be withdrawing the declaration with the possibility of a future review if deemed necessary,” said Mr Armstrong. “But given this matter was brought before the tribunal, we have asked that the appeal be considered and upheld in order for the matter to be finalised, even though the police have indicated the declaration is to be withdrawn.”
The directive by the Northern Territory Police Firearms Policy and Recording Unit was announced in October last year, advising the Savage A22R .22 rifle along with centrefire rifles such as the Verney Carron Speedline were being reclassified from A and B categories to C and D respectively. Owners were told they must ‘dispose’ of those firearms within three months, which was then extended by an additional three months after lobbying by SSAA (NT).
In letters to NT Police Commissioner Jamie Chalker and Minister Manison, SSAA (NT) said the declarations to reclassify the rifle were made without consultation with relevant stakeholders.
SSAA (NT) also said the reclassification raised significant concerns for its members and asked that declarations be revoked.
The letters included seven main concerns to be considered as a matter of urgency, including: “At no time was our organisation, or anyone representing shooters, consulted or spoken to whatsoever about re-categorisation of these firearms. This matter took us by complete surprise and came without any apparent justification or reason.”
In a statement to the SSAA, an NT Police spokesperson said: “NT Police are repealing the declaration with a view to engaging in more consultation with all parties involved, in order to make a considered and informed decision on the classification of these types of firearms.”.