Arms Legislation Bill report a small victory for common sense

Thu, 12 Dec, 2019

“The Finance and Expenditure Committee’s interim report on the Arms Legislation Bill is a small victory for common sense”, according to ACT Leader David Seymour.

“While ACT continues to oppose the bill, the fact that the committee is now listening to firearms owners and proposing three small improvements to the legislation is a welcome development.

“In its present form, the legislation says Police can inspect firearms and their storage and security arrangements if they give ‘reasonable notice of an inspection’ without actually specifying what ‘reasonable notice’ means.

“Submitters were rightly concerned that this ambiguity left room for interpretation. The committee is now proposing that Police are required to give seven days’ notice to firearms owners.

“The bill also requires every person in possession of a firearm to provide information to the firearms registry.

“ACT has questioned this requirement. For the register to accurately reflect whose possession a firearm is in at any given time would be impractical given the reality of people hunting with friends and transporting firearms to remote locations for use.

“The committee is therefore proposing a minimum period of 30 days before a person in possession of a firearm is required to provide information to the registry.

“The legislation also requires all firearms parts to be registered, including parts which are not integral to a firearm nor exclusive to firearms, such as small screws. Submitters have pointed out that this would be completely impractical and the committee is recommending that such parts should not have to be registered.

“These are small changes, but it is positive that this time around MPs have actually listened to firearms owners. April’s rushed Arms Amendment Act offered no meaningful opportunity for public consultation.

“ACT continues to oppose the Arms Legislation Bill because it would be an own goal for firearms safety.”

“The proposed registration regime for shooting clubs and ranges would discourage people from forming them, reducing the sense of community and cooperation that allows licensed firearms owners to upskill and monitor each other’s use of firearms.

“A firearms register would be costly and ineffective, as illustrated by overseas failures, and there are serious practical difficulties in making such a register meaningful.”