Time and time again the media uses the term ‘gun lobby’ in a derogatory way and attempts to unfairly paint everyday sporting shooters and hunters as extremist ‘gun nuts’ who want to see our gun laws ‘watered down’. I always counter with the point that we would not have to lobby and defend our members’ rights to the privilege of firearms ownership if certain politicians and anti-gun groups ceased their continual peddling of myths about our sport and malicious attempts to further restrict our legitimate activities without any evidence.
As explained previously in this column, your SSAA is representing the broader licensed firearms community across all levels of government. That is why we have state and territory SSAA branches along with an overarching national body acting on a federal level.
To ramp up our political activities in a crucial election year, SSAA National will be launching a new communications platform: SSAA Legislative Action or SSAA-LA. Members may be familiar with the NRA’s Institute of Legislative Action body that is the lobbying arm of the Association. The SSAA-LA will be similar in the sense that it will act as our political voice and clearly outline our political activities to our members.
The past year featured some notable achievements, with the SSAA standing side by side with likeminded shooting organisations and the industry to promote and defend our sport from the likes of the Greens-led Senate Inquiry and, of course, the ongoing National Firearms Agreement (NFA) review. This year, when you see emails, E-newsletters or stories branded ‘SSAA-LA’, we ask that you take the time to read our message and share the news with as many people (voters) as you can. Our strength is in numbers and with nearly one million licensed firearm owners positively representing our sport and pastime to their partners, families and friends, together we control at least two million pro-shooting votes. This is something that our politicians should not underestimate in a Federal Election year.
At the time of writing, we have just secured access to responses to some questions regarding the review into the NFA taken on notice by the bureaucrats involved at Senate Estimates hearings in October. These responses show that a decision on any changes to the NFA were set to be raised at the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting early this year. However, we have since heard from Justice Minister Michael Keenan that he has referred discussions back to the senior police officers group following a lack of consensus for change from the states, particularly in relation to re-categorising shotguns of a capacity of more than five rounds.
We have also been monitoring recent media reports containing statements from former Prime Minister John Howard. We published a scathing response across our media network. Needless to say, this sort of untruthful commentary is something we have to contend with as the media often excludes us from discussions, omits our responses or only engages with us when something bad happens.
In summary, I have to reiterate the point that your vote matters. While we will bring you the relevant firearms-related policies from the political parties and canvass individual supporters and dissenters to inform you as best we can, it is up to you to ensure your vote does not result in preferences flowing to those who do not support our cause. Together, we present a formidable force and we trust in our members to help secure the future of our sport.