WA firearms law changes need more thought and common sense.
The Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia (SIFA) and the West Australian Firearms Traders Association (WAFTA) have joined together to unite the WA shooting industry to fight against poorly designed firearms policy proposed by the McGowan Government.
Throughout the review into WA’s firearms regulations, the McGowan government has failed to consult with the WA shooting industry and in doing so has deprived itself of expert industry advice and real-world feedback on how the industry functions.
Both SIFA and WAFTA express deep concern over what appears to be the WA government surrendering to the police union by allowing WA Police as the regulator, to draft legislation without government oversight and ignore the concerns of the WA shooting industry. As a result, the legitimate WA shooting industry is wearing the brunt of poor policy rather than the criminal element, leading to calls for an independent review of all proposed changes.
Bevan Steele President of WAFTA said “this is simply a smoke and mirrors campaign from the McGowan government who is using the legitimate and highly compliant WA shooting industry as its scapegoat for their total failure in maintaining law and order in WA. There needs to be an independent enquiry before it is to late!”.
The WA shooting industry is concerned that the proposed changes will have no tangible effect on public safety, rather they will risk destroying many small businesses and create enormous stress for the state’s farmers.
Amongst the raft of proposals is the introduction of compulsory mental health checks for all licensed firearms owners, which has raised enormous concerns throughout the farming and agriculture sector. Farmers are concerned that seeking counselling to help deal with ordinary businesses stressors like a poor season, drought, fire or flood, will now see them denied access the tools necessary to operate their businesses.
James Walsh CEO of SIFA said “I have been contacted by a farmer in WA who has recently sought mental health assistance following a family issue. He is genuinely concerned that this will affect his ability to hold a firearms license, meaning that he would lose access to the tools he needs to run his farm. He also advised that this would stop him seeking further assistance as he can’t risk being without his firearms license. Surely this is not what we want as a society? Does the McGowan government really want to stop people seeking assistance when they need it the most?”
Questions have also been raised over the state of WA’s health system and what effect compulsory regular mental health checks would have on an already struggling system. “There are roughly 89,000 licensed firearms owners in WA, if all these people need to attend a doctor or psychologist on a regular basis, that is a lot of appointments that need to happen. Already in the regions it takes weeks to get a GP appointment, and I’m told the wait to get into a psychologist is over 6 months. This will only make it harder for people to seek the help they need” Mr Steele said.
Concerns have also been raised that the focus of the law changes will also have no effect on reducing firearms use by criminals or the illegal possession of firearms, as all the proposals are aimed at licensed and law-abiding shooters and businesses who are already police checked and monitored carefully.
“The WA government needs to look for real solutions to combat its organised crime problem rather than going after the very people who go out of their way to comply with firearms regulations. No criminal with an illegal and unregistered firearm will seek a mental health check, nor will they comply with the new regulations. The government MUST look at the facts and implement evidence-based policy, otherwise it is all a pointless exercise by a government who is simply trying to be seen doing something. WA deserves better than this!”, Mr Walsh said.
SIFA and WAFTA are calling on the McGowan government to show some common sense and direct their policies towards criminals. The WA shooting industry is an essential part of the WA economy, and the government must immediately engage with the WA shooting industry so that policies can also be assessed on the impact that they will have on our legitimate industry.
For further information:
Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia
M: 0419 933 066
M: 0427 862 903