In this article we tell you how we helped a former NSW Police Officer get his firearms licence.
We’ll also tell you about why NSW Police believe it would be ‘prejudicial’ to reveal how they make decisions relating to firearm related applications: something that we believe should be transparent.
Never a threat
MIKE BALDOCK was a collector/amateur gunsmith and restorer with a large number of firearms.
He also served for 25 years with the NSW police.
In 2017, Mick attended a job where a female died in terrible circumstances that affected him to the extent he was diagnosed with anxiety (later PTSD).
Later that year, he attended another tragic death of a teenager. After being treated for that matter, he worked until March 2018 when he could no longer work.
Nine months later, his command approached him with the intention of seizing his firearms.
Mick argued his case, after having had possession of his firearms at home for a lengthy period with no issues.
To their credit, they agreed he could keep his firearms provided he obtain a document from his psychologist that he was not a threat to himself or others. This was provided: It said:
“I have no concerns in regards to Mr Baldock’s ability to exercise continuous and responsible control over firearms.”
Michael Baldock, former NSW Police
Firearms Registry suspends Mick’s licence - then ignores an assessment they asked for
In February 2019, Mick returned to work in a limited capacity. After six months, Mick left his work place and colleagues of 20 years.
In March 2020, the NSW firearms registry decided to seize Mick’s firearms and suspend his licence. This is despite his none of his former colleagues expressing any concern, or there being any indication from medical practitioners.
In November 2020 the registry sent Mick a health questionnaire that was completed by his psychologist who held no fears about him, in similar terms to the earlier assessment.
However, Mick soon received a Revocation Notice, stating the report had been deemed unfavourable.
Police fail to state their case
Mick has been a lawful firearms enthusiast since a young age, using both rifles and handguns. He enjoys refurbishing vintage sporting rifles.
Mike, as a former weapons trainer
Mick served as a NSWPol weapons trainer, being a qualified instructor on Glock handguns and Taser Electronic Control Devices and an accredited Active Armed Offender instructor.
He was awarded the Juan Carlos Hernandez Memorial Shield at the NSW Police Academy for pistol shooting.
He was also a custody manager, and managed risk assessments for 25 years.
There was never any prospect of harming himself, let alone others.
In October 2020, Mike applied for a freedom of information request (in NSW called Government Information (Public Access) – GIPA) relating to the suspension of his licence.
Specifically, he sought documents relating to the NSW Police’s decision-making checklist and other documents but did not receive what he was after.
They refused the supply this, stating:
“the Firearms Registry have forwarded to me the documents pertaining to your matter and the information you have requested in relation to the “decision making” falls under the deliberative process in the GIPA Act and cannot be released to the public, specifically.”
Under the GIPA Act, the exemption that relates to ‘deliberate processes’ must prejudice how the agency functions.
In other words, NSW Police are arguing that it would be prejudicial to reveal how they make decisions relating to firearm licences.
Baloney. It’s a weak effort to avoid scrutiny.
The appeal - and simple one word answers...
Mick contacted the NSC which funded an appeal to NCAT. Mick retained his own solicitor, but we also put him in touch with our barrister so the two lawyers could work together on the appeal.
NCAT ordered the decision to go back to NSWPol for an internal review. Yet the registry said the assessment was ‘unfavourable’ and decided it was “not in the public interest” for Mick to have firearms despite the clear evidence from practicing professionals to the contrary.
In fact the evidence was more than clear. The image to the right shows you some of the evidence produced by Michael that provides nice, simple one-word answers.
The report concluded by saying there is no concern about his abilty to “exercise continuous and responsible control over firearms” – as he had done while in NSW Police.
Yet the police managed to read this differently.
Extract from assessment: this is what nice clear answers look like…
The matter went back to NCAT, with the hearing held on 16 November. The brief of evidence submitted by NSW Police provided no evidence to contradict the evidence put to them.
NSW Police's legal team steps in
A month before the hearing, NSW Police’s legal counsel argued they could not reinstate a licence because it had since expired but importantly suggested Mick re-apply for his licence.
It was evidence that the NSW Police’s own legal team was not prepared to follow the same line taken by the registry.
Mick applied for his licence, which was approved on 6 December.
“You shouldn’t either”
Mick says this matter leaves a sour taste in his mouth. He still has the utmost respect for those in his former workplace and “would go back tomorrow” if he could. He had no problem with any reasonable information requests, but has no faith in the registry.
In fact his advice to everyone else is:
“and you shouldn’t either.”
This game playing has cost Mick a considerable amount of money and stress. It resulted in the seizure of $20,000 of his property and denied him his favourite pastime for 20 months.
All because he did his job. We can’t make up for his lost time, but with the new year here, our message is
Happy shooting, Mick!
… but we’re not done yet. We’ve got at least two more stories on the NSW registry on their way.
We’d also like to thank Mike for being willing to share his story publicly. Hopefully exposing what happened to him will help stop the same happening to others.
12 thoughts on “Former NSW cop says why the firearms registry can’t be trusted”
We should be able to sue them for damages
I have an insight into politics on Sydney’s north, and in fact thought for years the conservatives ‘were’ the Liberal Party. It’s evident to me the registry does not have a large, if any, number of actual police on staff. Former police, such as Mr Baldock, would be a dramatic improvement, particularly if they had a licensing background.
My past gives me two suspicions as to what’s wrong at the registry and both are based in politics, not the ability of individuals to be competent administrative officers.
One can be seen in any police station, if you look at their poster of odd classifications of firearms, that I would never accept and made me glad I didn’t have to administer it. It seems to be derived from the truly bizarre one used in Washington. Both are about confusion and the NSW one will confuse staff at the registry.
The other would require a knowledge of the CVs of (non police) registry staff and management, how they came to the registry, and directives from above, that is, outside the registry, all the way to the Minister’s office. Particularly, I suspect, the Minister’s office and non police in the Senior Executive Service (where I would start).
Hi David Good point, one thought would be that they don’t want anyone with firearms knowledge (ex police) just sheep that will follow instructions. I also have had problems with the NSW Registry which was sorted after a long battle.
This smoke and mirrors action by the police along with their refusal to accept information that goes against the outcome they predetermined (Usually to the detriment of a legal firearm owner) is just unacceptable. Also I find that we firearm owners are treated as if we were part of the underworld or a bikie gang and this is just not on. And why is it that we are only allowed to have one gun of any type, this means that you can’t have two guns the same type??? what’s that all about????
Depends on the state, I believe you may be referencing WA laws. In NSW you can have any amount of firearms, so long as they fall within your legitimate reasons for ownership. If that is game hunting or pest control then “appropriate calibre/actuation for target animal” will be the reason, and so on.
Feel sorry for you Mick, I know the anxiety etc caused both by the job and the decision of the registry. In my case I succumbed to PTSD in 2008 and advised the registry of such; I had a fairly brief conversation with the Sgt at LRD who then advised that on information provided by Tasmania Police, a senior VicPol member and my own information my licence would remain valid. In 2012 a complaint was made to LRD by a disgruntled SSAA President regards comments I made towards him at a committee meeting; LRD contacted me and asked me to provide a letter from my GP stating their belief in regards to my mental stability and threat of self harm to myself and others, in addition they spoke to a then serving officer of VP that was at the meeting. Several days later I was informed that the matter was closed and I could resume my sport/instructing role. About a week later I got another call from LRD to again store my firearms and not use them or handle any others until l submitted a psychiatrist report in regards to my suitability to own and use firearms. After furnishing that report I was again informed I was free to return to normal. Since then I’ve renewed my licence several times with no issues. I’ve found LRD/VicPol to be very good to deal with and always helpful and respectful of my “rights” to own and use firearms.
“Since then I’ve renewed my licence several times with no issues. I’ve found LRD/VicPol to be very good to deal with and always helpful and respectful of my “rights” to own and use firearms.”
Are you sure of that..?
I hope you sued the “disgruntled SSAA President”.
Another nsw police officer who was medically retired with ptsd was also issued with a notice of revocation (as were members of the public with physical and mental disabilities) under the same premise that the could not maintain effective control etc. Officer did a foia for all police diagnosed with ptsdm depression etc who had returned to full duties (as is nsw police policy) and who had access to their sidearm. Obviously, because if he can’t exercise effective control, how can the serving officer with access to semi automatic pistol in active environments which could trigger a more severe ptsd reaction. The revocation notice was immediately withdrawn. Cant recall his name unfortunately.
Great perseverance Mick! We should be acknowledge you for putting your life on the line for public safety – not penalising you & preventing you from pursuing your chosen hobby. Considering that anyone’s hobby is a most effective pillar of mental health. Keep up the good work NSC?
The same happened to me four years ago……my son died of cancer & Vic Police confiscated all my firearms with no reason given. I was a Pistol target shooter of forty years.
My firearm were put into commercial storage & I was charged thousands of Dollars over five years while trying to get my firearms back.
My firearms licence was allowed to expire with no notice given to me & was told that I had to reapply & do another firearm course, again at my cost.
I still haven’t got all my firearms back, Firearms Registry has been painfully slow on all my interactions with them.
Vic Police & Firearms Registry are completely corrupt !!!!!!!!!!!
It’s taken me 3 years but after applying to NCAT the NSWPF conducted their own review and returned my licence using the same information as my initial application for review. My advice is to take them on and go for costs. The standard procedure of suspending licences for ex-police should be reviewed and the Firearm Registry held accountable for their actions. I hope some Minister, Current Affairs type show or some shooting association takes up the battle. I have complained to the Police Minister and still waiting to here back…