Draft proposals that would require law-abiding firearm owners in Tasmania to install an alarm system or recording device if they own just one handgun, along with other onerous restrictions, have been challenged by the SSAA. Both SSAA National and SSAA Tasmania put forward submissions regarding draft regulations and supporting documents released late last year, with the final regulations due this month.
As our submissions indicate, calls from the Department of Police, Fire and Emergency Management for increased storage requirements fail to note the rarity of firearm thefts and the rare use of stolen firearms in crime. The department’s commentary that it is “unacceptable” for an average of 200 registered firearms to be stolen per year in Tasmania completely ignores the fact that with around 300,000 registered firearms in the state, this equates to a rate of just 0.18 per cent incidents of theft. It also appears to blame the victims.
The SSAA challenged the proposal that licensed firearm owners should bear the cost of installing an alarm system or visual recording device for owning any number of handguns, and 10 or more firearms of any category. We pointed out that alarms would not bring any prompt policing response, especially in regional and inner regional areas where theft has been found to be more likely to occur.
The proposals also appear to ignore the outcomes of a 2014-15 Federal Senate Inquiry into gun-related violence that confirmed Australia’s gun owners are overwhelmingly storing their firearms responsibly and that these firearms are not being used by criminals in illegal activities. In our submission, we pointed to evidence presented throughout this inquiry that showed the illicit firearms market is where the efforts of our law enforcement agencies should be focused.
The proposed storage changes come after subjective appearance laws were overwhelmingly rejected by the shooting fraternity and ultimately scrapped. The SSAA will continue to educate new and current firearm owners about safe storage through our Secure Your Gun, Secure Your Sport campaign. But we have made it clear that we will not sit idly by when proposals devoid of evidence, and that further burden firearm owners for no public safety benefit, are touted.