THE NSC has lodged three Freedom of Information (FOI) requests with the Western Australian Government over:
• the significant hike in firearm licence fees;
• the claim by Police Minister Paul Papalia that gel blasters can be modified into ‘real firearms’; and
• WA Police’s basis for reclassifying the Ruger PC Charger
FOI #1: Firearm licence fee increases
Shooters out west were recently hit with licence fee hikes of over 100%, which were widely condemned by shooters and shooting organisations.
The reasons for the increases were not clear or stated anywhere.
Other states make information on how regulatory fees, such as shooters’ licence fees, are calculated and justified freely available. In fact, some governments cannot change fees without consulting stakeholders. That’s clearly not the case in WA.
In July, we put in a FOI request to understand the methodology used to calculate the fees.
In response, the WA Government has claimed an exemption from FOI on what is called cabinet in confidence. This exemption is usually for briefings and advice to ministers, but not for business that happens within departments.
Our argument is that the data we’re after is information held by WA’s Department of Treasury as part of its normal process for recalculating fees. We did not ask for briefings, but the data that sits underneath them.
We’re now taking this through an ‘internal review process’ but if we don’t get the documents, then we will have the right to appeal to the WA State Administrative Tribunal.
FOI #2: Conversion of gel blasters into fully functioning firearms
When Police Minister, Paul Papalia, stood in front of the media holding a gel blaster and telling us why they needed to be banned because they could be converted into a fully functioning firearm, it was obvious there was a problem.
The problem was made worse when we read Papalia’s background. He draws heavily on his background as a former SAS soldier which we interpret as suggesting he has a superior knowledge of firearms than shooters.
He even held a gel blaster at his media conference in a pose that to us, was someone reminiscing on his former days, and in an expression of his superior knowledge.
At the media conference, he stated:
“We are aware that many of the components of gel blasters are interchangeable with other parts and can be ultimately converted to a real firearm“
His media release reiterated that by stating:
“Police also have intelligence that criminal groups are importing gel blasters
and modifying them into workable firearms”
Really? In June, we put in a FOI to see how just how accurate the minster’s claims may be.
We’ve asked for document that show if the claims about the conversions can be modified, including any reports from gunsmiths or armourers.
The government has sought an extension of time to comply, which expires on 13 September. We agreed to that and wait patiently for the response to arrive.
As with the FOI on the licence fee increases, we can take an unsatisfactory response to our FOI request the WA State Administrative Tribunal.
FOI #3: WA Police decision to reclassify the Ruger PC Charger
The fight we have with WAPol to get the Ruger PC Charger is almost over.
The three applicants are in the process of having some minor modifications to their guns made, but the commitment to licence them, under threat of our legal action continuing, has been made.
However, that does not excuse the police for how they made their decision in the first place, and forced the NSC to drag them down this path.
In addition to the other FOIs, we put in this third one seeking any documents that related to the force’s decision to reclassify the firearm, such as briefings, technical reports, assessments and photos – and why it was not in the public interest for the gun to be licensed in WA.
As with the earlier FOIs, the WA Police were not able to comply within the timeframe, and an extension has been sought.
Over 250 reasons to join the NSC
The good news for shooters is that the NSC clearly has the ability and interest to probe complex issues like this in depth.
We were the first and only organisation that took legal actions to contest the closing of gun shops in three states. We have been the first and only orgnaistion that helped shooters – whether or not members – get their licences back, and to fight the reclassification of firearms – in most states.
We’re also the first and only organistion who is providing voting advice for shooters in every state and territory.
For that, you’ve given us over 250 x 5 star reviews on Google.
If you want to know if the NSC is worth joining, then there’s your answer right there.
That’s why more and more shooters are supporting our work for just $35 a year ($25 for pensioners) – with the option of genuine reason for those in Qld, NSW and Vic.