An alliance bringing Western Australia’s grassroots firearms and firearms interest groups together has secured ongoing meetings to achieve transparent and ongoing consultation on the rewrite of the state’s firearms act.
The WA Firearms Community Alliance (WAFCA) has been pushing for meaningful consultation with the WA Government since its inception in April this year. The group’s creation was motivated by the member groups attending infrequent token consultation meetings and a tirade of media announcements and negative press demonising the concept of legal firearms being owned by law-abiding members of the community.
A rewrite of WA’s Firearms Act was announced in March 2022 and is set to be tabled in WA Parliament in November 2023. With a clear majority in both houses of parliament, the WA Labor party, previously led by Mark McGowan and now Roger Cooke, has had the power. Much of the media coverage that has followed reiterates that popularity, being particularly skewed. Most recently, The West Australian newspaper printed an article titled ‘Glacial progress on WA’s long overdue gun laws overhaul as another woman murdered in domestic violence horror’.
Linking these events shows a clear lack of understanding that the only group impacted by regulating firearms is the law-abiding civilians who have a genuine reason, license themselves, register their firearms and store them appropriately.
In another illustration of misrepresenting firearm ownership in Australia, a story for SBS introduced shotgunner Rocky Shi as an “unapologetic gun enthusiast” and went on to clumsily suggest there is a stereotype that “gun owners are violent” and there are ‘experts’ that back this claim.
When writing about firearms, maintaining fairness and balance while putting together a good story can be a difficult task, particularly when seeking sales or ratings.
Firearms and the shooting sports are also a specialised knowledge area and it can be easy to get it wrong unless you are a sporting shooter or you have personal experience with the topic.
SSAA National actively works with the media and contacts journalists and news sources to help address inaccuracies and educate media professionals. A Journalist’s Guide to Firearms and the Shooting Sports was produced as an extensive guide to assist journalists and media professionals when reporting on firearms-related stories.