Sporting shooters claim firearms victory

Sporting Shooters claimed a victory after the police firearms registry was forced to withdraw new regulations restricting the sale of ammunition for handguns.

The state government introduced the new laws to restrict ammunition sales for all firearms last year and has since watered down the regulations to only apply to handgun owners.  

The Sporting Shooters online magazine reported on Wednesday that "flawed and controversial ammunition control laws have been shelved in another victory for shooters as the NSW government runs into more problems with their implementation".

However, a senior government staff member told the Herald the regulations would not change and be implemented as planned from March 8.

Police Minister Mike Gallacher said his "parliamentary colleagues" (understood to be from the Shooters and Fishers Party) had raised concerns about information provided by the firearms registry on the new ammunition sale regulations. The information was taken off the firearms registry website on Wednesday.

“NSW Police has now taken the information down until the Regulation is properly proclaimed," Mr Gallacher said.

“The NSW government is committed to protecting public safety by providing an effective firearms registration regime, and that includes keeping firearm owners informed of their responsibilities."

A spokesman for the NSW Police Force confirmed that all documents relating to the Firearms Amendment (Ammunition and Club Armourers) Regulation 2013 had been removed from the firearms registry website.

"Once the regulation is finalised the registry will determine the correct systems to support the legislation, and notify those affected. The website will be updated with all relevant material as soon as possible," he said.

The firearms registry posted a bulletin which said licenced gun owners would need to provide proof of their identification to firearms dealers when buying ammunition for handguns from April 8.

It said they would also need to present their firearms licence, permit and a current registration certificate for the firearm for which ammunition was being bought.

The firearms registry said applicants for firearms permits would also need to provide a "good reason" on their application form for a gun permit. As reported by the Herald recently, NSW firearms laws require a good reason be given when applying for a gun permit. The existing application form does not ask for such a reason. People are only asked for a "genuine reason" when applying for their gun licence, which is another legal requirement.

Neither Mr Gallacher nor the NSW Police would confirm whether there would be any changes to the information the independent firearms registry had removed from its website.

Peter Whelan, the president of the Shooters Union NSW said the new ammunition sale requirements were onerous and "ridiculous".

He said NSW should follow Canada's example in scrapping its firearms registry.

Gun owners were concerned that providing their personal details, including their home address, could lead to theft.

"The restrictions on ammunition sales are targetting the wrong people," he said. "It is just a distraction."

Greens MP David Shoebridge asked Mr Gallacher in parliament whether the police firearms registry was still valid, but said he did not receive a clear answer.

"It's pretty clear who is running firearms policy in NSW and it's not the police, it's not the minister," Mr Shoebridge said.

"The government's only legislative response to gun crime in Western Sydney has now been scuttled by the gun lobby."

This story Sporting shooters claim firearms victory first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.