HOME AFFAIRS MINISTER, KAREN ANDREWS, doesn’t seem to be taking the needs of the firearms industry seriously.
It’s not helped by her bureaucrats who are being disingenuous in their efforts to defend the advice they’re giving her. In this story:
- The Department of Home Affairs has one last go at trying to justify why appearance laws exist on the Minister’s behalf;
- The examples they use have nothing to do with appearance, but illegal conduct;
- A member of the NSW Police Force confirms basis for appearance laws doesn’t exist.
In this recent story we told you how we challenged Minister Andrews to justify our appearance laws after the states made it clear they were based on speculation.
You will recall they specifically pointed to arguments based on incidents that “could”, “may” or had the “potential” to happen, and an “assumption”. We also revealed that through Daniel Mossop, a senior public servant, the Minister claimed there were ‘numerous incidents’ that justified the laws.
Intrigued, we wrote back to Minister Karen Andrews challenging her to provide an example of where the ‘numerous incidents’ happened. We received no response by our deadline so went live with our article and related video which received over 800 shares on Facebook.
The belated response
Since the story, Mr Mossop provided a response.
His letter, dated after the story and which you can see by clicking here, points to three examples that justify the appearance laws.
Being clear about what we asked
When we challenged the Minister, we specifically asked that any examples needed to relate to how the firearm appears. Importantly the examples should not relate to other offences – such as possessing unregistered firearms – because that has nothing to do with appearance laws which relate to legally held cat A and B firearms.
A further useful criteria is that the offence needed to be relevant to how a ‘first responder’ might deal with the sighting of a firearm in a different way because of what it looked like.
This is because the NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Police and Justice, Mark Taylor MP, provided this explanation of why appearance laws exist, at least in NSW:
That’s pretty clear. The law – at least according to NSW – is designed to address ‘additional’ intimidation or threats because of how a firearm looks, and how first responders assess an ‘incident’.
His last line gives it away. All the examples the Federal Government has used to justify the law, relied upon conduct that was already illegal.
Let’s go through the media reports he attached to Mr Mossop’s letter. In summary:
Incident 1: The report says a man was charged after being charged “in possession of a firearm” which was a replica “assault rifle” in Orange NSW. The ‘gun’ was unregistered. He was also charged with possessing a knife.
In other words, the ‘incident’ had nothing to do with appearance of a cat A or B firearm because it was an unregistered replica which has its own requirements.
Incident 2: The report said a Victorian walker fled in fear after observing someone with a replica rifle. Two men were charged with possession offences which again implies conduct that is already dealt with by existing firearm laws.
The guns were gel blasters (incorrectly referred to imitations and replicas in the article) which also have their own requirements. Again, this matter has nothing to do with the appearance of a cat A or B.
Incident 3: This report is about an incident that occurred in the US.
Not even remotely relevant to Australia.
The simple fact remains the Federal Government has provided no examples to justify it’s position. Instead, it has based its position on illegal conduct involving replicas and a gel blaster, and not a lawfully held category A or B firearm that looked like a category D.
The Minister is ultimately responsible for this, and we intend to get her to get the law changed.
Danny's dummy spit
We’re happy with that – mainly because we never wrote to the Department. We wrote to the Minister.
NSW Detective confirms nsc's position
In recent days we received contact from a current serving member of NSW Police.
You might recall that it was the NSW Government that provided the first responder explanation.In his many years as a detective, he:
“investigated numerous Homicides, robberies, home invasions in which firearms were used (easily 500+ incidents) and none of which any firearms which could be described as “full auto” or “military” in appearance were used (and none were Cat C or D).”
In addition, this officer received his own reply from the Federal Government which offered a different explanation of why the law exists. In the response (which you can read in full by clicking here).
In summary, it offers the alternate explanation that the Government does not believe the current system of firearm categorisation is able to deal with advances in technology and needs appearance laws to fill that void.
However the letter does not explain what the problem with changes in technology is. Firearm actions haven’t changed much at all in well over 100 years, so it would seem that explanation doesn’t work.
Sorry Minister Andrews. Try again.