Support those who support us

A message from SSAA National President Geoff Jones

This year we have seen a concerted and coordinated attack from the anti-firearms lobby and the politicians who support them. Law-abiding shooters and the SSAA have endured a ‘trial by media’, where those with no knowledge of the Australian firearms environment – or those who know the truth but ignore it in favour of sensationalism and fearmongering – have spread disinformation and vilified Australia’s near one million responsible, law-abiding firearms owners. As every shooter knows, equating the Australian firearms community with gun violence and crime is ridiculous.

Recently, every political party has made public statements that they have no interest in ‘watering down’ Australia’s firearms laws. Law-abiding firearms owners are just as interested in public safety issues as anyone else – more so in fact. There is no record anywhere of the SSAA going against sensible firearms laws that are practical, workable and will have a genuine outcome to make a safer Australia.

What we don’t want is a review of firearms laws which won’t increase public safety. In the past, laws have been created that have had unintended consequences or caused an undue burden on law enforcement resources which could be better used fighting firearms-related crime.

Over the coming days, some politicians may seek what they think is an easy vote-winner, sacrifice good policy for perceived populism, and promote nonsensical changes to existing laws. We need to remind them there are almost one million shooters in Australia who care about sensible firearms policy – and vote.

On the positive side, over the past three years we have continued to present the mainstream face of shooting to Senators and MPs and build working relationships with Government and Opposition Ministers and spokespeople. We have been active in debunking claims made by anti-firearms lobbyists, promoting the shooting sports and contributing to policy debates around such issues as the impact of wild deer and the relationship between firearms ownership and domestic violence (i.e. none).

The 2017 national firearms amnesty was a success, with SSAA lobbying hard for a model where many states and territories allowed those with unregistered firearms to register or sell them through licensed firearms dealers. Almost 60 per cent of firearms handed in during the amnesty were subsequently registered, which has been a great outcome.

Recently, and of particular note, is the survey of recreational shooting lobbied for by the SSAA and undertaken by the Office of Sport under the auspices of Minister Bridget McKenzie. We all know shooting has many economic, conservation, health and social benefits and this survey may finally provide an Australia-wide picture of those to help enlighten the non-shooting public about the benefits of what we do.

As the country’s largest and most representative shooting organisation, the SSAA invited all the major and key minor parties to submit their views on firearms, hunting and the shooting sports for publication in this ASJ: 2019 Federal Election special edition.

These statements come directly from the parties, with the exception of the Australian Greens who chose not to respond. Their record is clear and consists of attacks on the firearms community, an attitude that firearms owners should be treated like criminals, and supporting changes to firearms laws based on fiction instead of fact.

The SSAA will always support those who support us and embrace evidence-based policy over emotion. We will continue to call out those who promote policies designed to punish law-abiding firearms owners, taking the focus away from where it belongs. The evidence clearly shows it is the criminal element and illicit firearms market which pose the biggest threat.

When you cast your vote this month, we encourage you to use this information as a guide for those who support your recreation. However, don’t just vote for a party – take time to find out what your local candidates think about shooting.

Our only advice is to suggest you put the Greens last as their continual attacks and utter refusal to engage with the law-abiding firearms community speaks volumes on how they see us all.

With close to a million shooters as well as their families and friends, together we represent a significant proportion of the Australian voting public. Now’s the time to make your voice heard.

For more on the Federal Election click here.

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