GCA welcomes WA gun law reform

Western Australia to become first Australia jurisdiction to completely honour the NFA.

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Gun Control Australia (GCA) welcomes the WA Government’s decision to prioritise community safety and address the needless proliferation of guns in the State.

Australia’s gun laws are based on the landmark National Firearms Agreement, established after the Port Arthur massacre in which a man used two semi-automatic rifles to kill 35 adults and children, and wound many others.

“At present no jurisdiction fully complies with the National Firearms Agreement. If the WA Government follows through on its commitment, it will become the first jurisdiction in Australia to honour both the letter and spirit of the Agreement” GCA spokesperson Professor Charles Watson said.

Figures released by the WA Government reveal that Western Australians now own more than 349,000guns – a 60% increase compared to 13 years ago. 

“As gun numbers increase, community safety is being compromised. Widespread gun ownership can have a devastating real-world impact on the lives of ordinary people, such as women who feel they cannot leave an abusive relationship for fear their partner’s firearm will be used against them and their children.” 

“Gun Control Australia welcomes the WA Government’s announcement, but notes that to be fully effective the overhaul should also address the unabated power of the gun lobby, which is funded by a quirk in
Australia’s gun laws.”

“Australian gun laws require a person to demonstrate a ‘genuine reason’ for owning a gun. The National Firearms Agreement provides that this may be demonstrated through membership of a gun club, leading toa flood of new members for gun clubs after the 1996 reforms, and the growth of the gun lobby.”

“Many people don’t realise that our world-leading gun laws are being dismantled as a result of decades of pressure from a well-funded and powerful gun lobby. In addition to gun club peak bodies, the firearm supply industry has also amassed substantial funds, with a 2019 report finding that it spends roughly thesame amount of money as a share of population on political campaigning as the National Rifle Association (the NRA) does in the United States.”

“Australia’s gun lobby escapes attention because it keeps its operations out of the public eye, but behind the scenes it lobbies politicians and journalists, and has even run campaigns that don’t mention firearms or gun control to influence political outcomes. The gun lobby will be concerned these sensible reforms will set a precedent they don’t like, and Western Australians should be vigilant as they pull out every trick in the book to stymie them.”

“Despite enjoying substantial funding by virtue of Australia’s gun laws, gun clubs operate with relatively light
oversight, minimal reciprocal obligations, and no obligation to contribute to public safety initiatives. We feel
this is an untenable position. If gun clubs are exercising important functions under law, there must be
greater oversight by Government of their activities.”


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