“I believe there is a real likelihood that SAT may find in favour of the above appeals”

– internal WA Police advice on the NSC’s legal challenges against the Ruger PC Charger ban

FREEDOM OF INFORMATION (FOI) DOCUMENTS show Western Australia Police believed the NSC’s fight to overturn the ban on the Ruger PC Charger could win.

The documents also show the reasons WAPol orginallly banned the gun was because, among other things, it might become popular and believed it was a “poor competition gun”.

Earlier this year, we won three cases in the WA State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) against the reclassification of the Ruger PC Charger to category D, which we reported in this story.

We followed this up with an FOI application to reveal the basis of why the gun was banned.  Now we have the response.

WA Police’s refusal to provide documents on key gun bans

In June 2020, WA Police reclassified several firearms, including the Ruger.  It’s argument was that it was “not in the public interest” for the gun to be licensed in WA.

After filing three challenges in the WA SAT, we also put in a FOI request to get to the bottom of why WA Pol formed that view.

WAPol initially refused to provide documents and respond to a request for an internal review, which we then took to the WA Information Commissioner.

While that office became difficult to deal with, we decided to go back to WAPol for a second go at seeking an internal review. To our surprise, WAPol accepted this, which led to a wait that turned out to be worth it.

A change of mind

The internal review resulted in a decision to overturn the original decision to deny documents to the NSC.

As a result, we received 5 documents.

The decision to ban the gun

The original decision to ban the gun started when a member of the WA Firearm Traders Association decided to raise questions about the gun with WAPol.   While the trader probably asked the right question of the gun, it set off a chain of events that then led to several guns being prohibited.

WAPol then made inquiries about the gun, however it would appear that it was never actually inspected.  This might be because the registry did not have any records of the gun being in WA at the time.

In arriving at its decision, WAPol made assumptions that shooters in WA would find a way around the laws against modifying firearms to category D (i.e. self-loading military style longarms), by stating:

This appears to be the main reason WAPol banned the gun.

In later advice, the same officer stated:

While we can understand the logic of concerns where a firearm can be easily converted to category D, it is insulting to suggest that licensed shooters would circumvent the law through mail order.

There are significant penalties for illegal modifications and owning firearms that are not in the right category – which means WAPol has the laws it needs to pursue those who do the wrong thing. 

This should have been enough to drop the matter, but they instead relied on an assumption that had no basis.

The NSC’s ‘real likelihood’ of winning the legal fights

The documents we received suggest that WAPol didn’t get around to inspecting the firearm until after the NSC lodged it’s three appeals.

They suggested that our case was stronger than we thought. In a brief to the same senior officer who banned the gun, the internal advice stated:

The brief also stated that settling the case outside the SAT addressed three issues of concern to WAPol.

Those concerns were:

None of the reasons cited by WAPol are consistent with the National Firearms Agreement.  They do not support anything that is consistent with how firearms are classified in any other jurisdiction.

While it was the applicants’ wishes to settle their actions on the basis of modifying the firearm to satisfy WAPol, we’re now very confident that a challenge to licence the Ruger PC Charger, unmodified, could succeed.   

However, for now, we’re happy to hand this back to the WA FTA, where this all started.

WAPol’s current gun ban position

The updated advice that WAPol sent out in October last year confirming the status of the Ruger is yet to be updated.   The advice currently reads:

Snr Sgt Fisher needs to update his advice. 

Fighting gun bans

Every legal fight we have taken against a gun ban has been successful in one way or another.

WA Police clearly didn’t have any reason to reclassify the Ruger, and we are seeing similar problems in other states, most notably NSW and SA.

Readers might recall our recent story that the only justiifcation the Feds had for appearance laws were three incidents – all involving replica firearms and one of them not even being in in Australia

What is clear is that our challenges are showing up the problems and flaws with the current approach – and legal challenges are viable and worth pursuing.

What we would like to see from our lawmakers is some leadership on reclassification, starting with scrapping appearance law. This will add certainty for our suppliers and go a long way towards ensuring a more uniform system of firearm categorisation across our states & territories.

10 thoughts on “Secret WA Police docs show why legal challenges against gun bans work

  1. Jason says:

    Can someone please explain to me why there cannot be a single registry and governing body for firearms in Australia? Surely a single body can be a more effective way than every state and territory having different rules and processes involved. Yes it would take some doing to ensure that every state and territory has its say in laws, regulations and compliance, but its then a single entity for all Australians to comply with. Am I being too simplistic about this ? A single governing body would then allow the correct information to be passed on to all areas of concern, have a audit trail of complete disclosure to relevent required parties, instant knowledge and accessible information to all departments that need to know . An equal opportunity for any citizen wanting a firearms licence and access to ammunition and associated items required to maintain them, with the ability to freely move anywhere within Australia with them for any lawful purposes without the red tape attached.

    • lost property says:

      knowing our luck the 1 body would cherry pick every wrong silly rule from all 7 states and territories.
      careful wishing out loud.

    • Greg says:

      Section 52 of The Australian Consitution
      Firearm management is the responsibility of states and territories

  2. Trevor Pollock says:

    Well done to everyone involved.
    Exceptional work in protecting the law abiding citizen.
    Again,well done to everyone.

  3. Blue Sky Country says:

    The most disturbing thing about this is that there are people, families going missing all the time in the boonies, and a lot of heinous crimes going on in the aboriginal lands that are unsolved, and these mall ninjas are sitting around arguing about how scary a collapsible buttstock on a rifle is? Governments never provide actual help or solutions, anytime in history. Governments only destroy everything they touch. Even the less malicious ones are about as useful as teats on a boar in their respective societies.

  4. Brad Bell says:

    I need help, my ex employer lied about me having a firearm at work, I was taken by police to hospital, given a pshyc review and released, my licensed rifle was seized now firearms want a pshyc letter so they can decide wether I get my gun back. I need help, I’m in WA. No charges were made from police and the hospital let me go with no concerns at all. I left my employer.

  5. Ian says:

    I like Jason’s idea, but would like to extend it. The Gov. Gen. is the commander of the Australian Defence Force. Would he like a million or so irregulars? Farmers and shooters of all types – Cheap – we have our own guns, we know our own patch of Oz intimately. We know the people in our patch. We also have a fairly high probability of hitting what we are aiming at. The only problem that I can see as a retired Defence Force Officer, is command and control. We would need to undertake a wee bit of training at the local Army Reserve unit, the odd weekend or so. The other strength of Jason’s idea is the central holding of records of licenses, guns and addresses!!!!! HELD BY THE DEFENCE FORCE! in a central registry, securely and able to be destroyed as the tactical situation dictates – let us avoid the lesson of Poland’s civilian firearms owners’ when invaded by the Nazis. Look it up! I know it. Applied to Aus, it sickens me.
    For the faint hearted, irregular troops are best and almost always used on their own patch. What think ye all? No police involvement with Licensing, safe keeping, what the gun looks like – ahhhh… You Victorians and West Aussies would have to be keen on that side of it, hey?

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