An excerpt from SSAA National’s 2009 A Journalist’s Guide to Firearms and the Shooting Sports
The ‘gun lobby’
Is there such a thing as the ‘gun lobby’ and if so, who are they and what do they do? While there is no formalised pro-gun lobbying group within Australia, the SSAA is proud to say that it acts as a contact group for its 120,000-plus members and lobbies at all levels of government to ensure positive, sensible legislation that affects its members. There is nothing unusual about a group representing tens of thousands of Australians talking to policymakers; in fact, this is common practice.
Other smaller shooting groups within Australia, within a combined total membership of approximately 40,000 members, include Pistol Australia, Australian Clay Target Association (ACTA), International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC), Australian Deer Association (ADA), Safari Club International (SCI) and Field and Game Federation of Australia (FGDA). Representatives from the SSAA, along with members of the National Firearms Dealers and Traders Council, other shooting groups and various distributors and importers, talk to government representatives regarding legislation, current trends and national and international issues.
The SSAA also sits on the Sporting Shooters and Firearms Advisory Council (SSFAC). The organisation was consulted by the Minister for Justice and Customs in late 2002 specifically to provide advice to the Australian Government in the development of the Council of Australian Governments’ (COAG) Handgun Reforms. Other members of the SSFAC include representatives from smaller firearms associations, the National Dealers and Traders Association, Historical Arms Collectors Council of Australia, National Farmers Federation (NFF), the security industry, film armourers, firearms importers, exporters, manufacturers and dealers. Together, all of these groups make up Australia’s unofficial ‘gun lobby’.
The media should be wary of small fringe shooting organisations that like to make headlines, but do not represent the majority of shooters. Proper research is the key here.
The SSAA is also a full member of the international lobby group, the World Forum on the Future of Sports Shooting (WFSA) and the Pacific Shooting Sports Forum. The SSAA, as previously mentioned, has official Non-Government Organisation (NGO) status within the United Nations.
The anti-gun lobby
The two main opponents of legal recreational shooting in Australia are Melbourne-based Gun Control Australia (GCA) and Sydney-based National Coalition for Gun Control (NCGC). According to Gun Control Australia’s website, and its leader John Crook, the organisation is “a voluntary non-profit organisation, which is committed to raising awareness about the gun problem, the gun lobby and issues associated with gun control in Australia”. It has been active since 1981. The National Coalition for Gun Control formed in 1992. It has no website or public contact details and does not solicit public membership. People associated with NCGC include Roland Browne and Samantha Lee.
The Australian Greens have also now started to adopt personal anti-firearm ownership policies. They are calling for the total prohibition of possession and use of handguns and for further tightening of the gun laws that were introduced in 1996.