The recent release of reports from government inquiries looking at recommendations that will affect our chosen pastime has reaffirmed the need for a single, united association to represent and protect the shooting sports and firearm owners’ interests.
The SSAA had this year been working under the recommendation that the report from the Greens-led Senate Inquiry into gun-related violence in the community would be released on March 26. Unfortunately, the report was recently granted another extension and is now due on April 9. While we, unlike Greens Senator Penny Wright, have been careful not to pre-empt the committee’s findings, you can rest assured that the SSAA will be doing everything we can to dispel any further misinformation spread by the Greens throughout the course of the Inquiry. We will counter any unfair recommendations that see an added burden placed on the licensed, law-abiding firearms owner, for no public safety benefit.
The SSAA has also closely monitored the Inquiry into the Sydney terror siege, and we have concerns about recommendations that call for the establishment of a national firearms registry or National Firearms Interface (NFI). The SSAA has always said that spending millions, if not billions, of taxpayers’ dollars on a new firearms registration system will not capture firearms currently on the black market. We urge our legislators to look at both the New Zealand and most recent Canadian experience, where national longarms registrations blew out cost-wise before they were ultimately scrapped.
On a more positive note, I am pleased to report that our new Gold Membership category launched earlier this year is proving popular and clearly meeting the demands of our members. We have received a number of calls saying how members have saved hundreds of dollars on their firearms insurance simply by upgrading to this fantastic option. If you haven’t had the chance to look into this package, which requires just $35 per year on top of your current membership for $25,000 worth of firearms insurance, I encourage you to visit the SSAA Insurance Brokers website today.
I am also proud of the high level of interaction we have with our members. Members can engage with the SSAA in more ways than ever before, with our SSAA National Facebook page offering an online medium for positive discussion and real-time information-sharing. We also have our own YouTube channel, SSAA TV, which features videos on how to clean your rifle and reload for pistols and rifles, as well as clips from the popular SSAA SHOT Expos. Be sure to get involved in our growing online community.
It is also great to see our membership expanding, with outstanding growth of 5 per cent last year alone. We are now just shy of 170,000 members, and perhaps by the time you receive this magazine, we would have surpassed this figure. Our SSAA state and territory branches continue to grow, offering more clubs and facilities than ever before.
Of course, our increasing numbers allow us to give more back to the community, particularly in terms of conservation and wildlife management activities. We have paved the way for an endangered species, the western quoll, to be reintroduced into the Flinders Ranges in South Australia through the Bounceback Project. We have also dedicated more than 1000 hectares at one of our shooting range properties in Queensland and in partnership with the state government to re-establish habitat and house displaced koalas. An update on both these projects will be detailed in future editions of this magazine.
Finally, I applaud our members who have donated generously to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service through the SSAA Club Red initiative. So far, our members have saved 789 lives through 263 blood donations.
As always, we will continue to keep our members informed on our vast range of activities through our many publications, including the latest international news from the World Forum on Shooting Activities (WFSA) attended by the SSAA in March. I thank you for your support as we continue to tackle ever-evolving political issues.