Firearm license mental health check announcement not in the interest of public safety

The below statement can be attributed to Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia Western Australia (SSAA WA) Paul Fitzgerald.

The latest attack on firearms owners in Western Australia is premature and will put unmanageable pressure on our already failing health system. WA Police Minister Paul Papalia has announced a proposal to introduce mandatory mental health checks on new and existing firearms owners in this state without any consultation or proof of concept.

SSAA WA supports all practical and considered measures employed to ensure the safety of the community with respect to firearms.

In 2021, there were 389 suicides in WA. This figure highlights a much greater issue at hand than the statistics quoted by the WA Police Minister, who cites the 20 deaths by firearms last year as the justification for this kneejerk reaction.

The McGowan Government has failed catastrophically in its ability to provide adequate health services to rural communities, including critical areas of mental health support. This landscape has unfortunately resulted in many heartbreaking criminal incidents playing out in the regions, as has been widely reported in the media.

Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and community sporting groups, such as SSAA WA and the Men’s Regional Health Initiative, are left to help prop up mental health services in the regions. However, our annual $20,000 donation through the Red Card for Rabbits and Foxes program can only go so far.

This is a prime example of the McGowan Government failing in its promise to deliver a “gold standard of transparency” with all facets of the WA community. This community includes 85,000-plus licensed and law-abiding firearm owners who are target shooters competing locally and internationally, landowners conducting pest animal control and recreational hunters hunting for the table and assisting in conservation. Our facet of the community deserves the same level of respect and consultation afforded to our peers without judgement or condemnation.

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