As law-abiding, licensed firearm owners, it is hard not to be offended by the negative media coverage and rhetoric surrounding the shooting sports, recreational hunting and the firearms industry as a whole. The coverage can be described as ignoring shooters at best, and denigrating shooters at worst.
The vicious response to Glenn McGrath’s African hunting trip, along with social media attacks on the SSAA Western Australia Branch over proposed recreational hunting on public land demonstrates the lack of good faith many appear to have in our sport and activities.
But amid the doom and gloom, there are some who understand the importance of the shooting sports and recreational hunting, with Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie going into bat for hunters in a passionate speech to the Senate earlier this year. Senator McKenzie is also behind the recently formed Parliamentary Friends of Shooting group, which will see interested MPs and Senators attend range days and show their support for the shooting sports. The SSAA attended the group’s launch on March 23 and was pleased to share information about the shooting sports and some of the Association’s recent activities.
While we commend Senator McKenzie for her support, there is some confusion regarding the political affiliations of SSAA National. The SSAA state and territory bodies may choose to support a party, but SSAA National is strictly not ‘politically aligned’. That being said, we are certainly not ‘apolitical’, a term that translates to having no involvement in politics. The SSAA is involved in politics. We are not afraid to slam those individuals who choose to unfairly legislate or broadcast misinformed views that lack factual evidence, and we do applaud those who support the shooting sports with fair and practical policy. We play it as we see it, with the best interests of our members at heart.
Despite our best efforts, the Federal Environment Minister decided to take the political road rather than do what was best for the environment and species when he banned the importation of lion trophies. While disappointed with the decision, we will continue to provide information to the Minister’s office to ensure all scientific evidence is considered in the future, instead of bowing to pressure from animal activist groups or uneducated MPs such as Victorian MP Jason Wood, who campaigned for this ban.
On the international front, I recently accompanied our international representative Bob Green to the meeting of the World Forum on Shooting Activities (WFSA). While Australia is a major player on the world stage, it must be said that the issues we face are not unique to our country, and Australia is performing very well on a comparative basis. It was also fantastic to see a key local firearms manufacturer, Lithgow Arms, present at the associated IWA Firearms Trade Show and see quality Australian-made sporting firearms back on the world stage.
On the national front, the Greens-led Senate Inquiry report was released on April 9, just as we were going to print with the May Australian Shooter. We immediately responded to the 180-page report, with the majority report’s recommendation for a study into the benefits of recreational shooting and hunting a good thing for us and our activities.
You can rest assured that your SSAA will be the voice of our members and have already responded to the Greens’ further attacks on our sport, along with issuing a Freedom of Information request to see how much this Inquiry – which was nothing more than an expensive witch-hunt – has cost the taxpayer, with no real public safety benefits. Once again, we will play it as we see it – for the good of our members and the future of our sport.