Shock loss - and a shocking ruling

THE NSC HAS LOST A CASE in the WA State Administrative Tribunal that will require a shooter to use his .338 at closer distances when a smaller calibre rifle would have been more suitable and safer.

It is an outcome that goes against expert advice and ignored several important considerations such as cost, weight and the risk of overpenetration at closer range.

WA: ruling by prohibition

Shooters outside WA can get a .300WM if they have the right licence and ‘genuine reason’. Once they get these, they can get a permit to acquire the firearms they need. 

While the WA Firearms Act 1973 has a “purpose” to make provision for the ‘regulation of firearms and ammunition’ that permits people to gain access to firearms, the WA Police runs it as a regime of prohibition that makes getting permission harder and less predictable.

It means WA licence holders have to go well beyond what shooters in other states have to go to get the same firearm. 

The WA system is also contrary to the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) which provides for occupational uses of different firearms where the result “cannot be achieved by some other means”.  In this case, a .300 Win Mag would have been suitable – but was denied

You win some, you lose some.
Shooters just want someone like the NSC fighting for them.

For non-shooters and journalists, WA is also notoriously non-compliant with the NFA in other significant ways. Among them are WA’s failure to recognise interstate licences and use the significantly more efficient permit-to-acquire system used in other states. It’s why the state’s approach to gun laws matters to us.

The case

Adrian Lippi (pictured left) works as a feral pest controller. His main guns for this purpose are a pump action .270 Remington and a .338 Lapau.

The .270 is used in heavy cover at relatively close range on pests such as feral pigs, while the.338 Lapua is for long range use on heavy boned pests such as feral camels.

Like any other tradesman, Adrian uses different tools for different jobs and considered that he needed a .300WM to fill the gap between the other 2 guns.

The police refused Adrian permission to get the .300WM, saying that he could use the .270 pump action to cull feral animals at a range of up to 500 metres.

This is a complete about-face from in Bent v Commissioner of Police (2011) where WA Police argued against granting a licence for a .338 Lapau on the basis that it was far too powerful for civilian use and that its use could create public safety problems.

To be clear, the reason for this had nothing to do with Adrian being fit and proper, or any of the other considerations that would normally stop someone getting one in other states. It was all about the rifle.

What the police argued

Cost: We / Adrian argued in evidence to the tribunal that an important consideration of the choices of calibre was the cost of the ammunition.

At the time, the cost of a .300WM was $3.50 a round while .338 Lapau was $8 per round, or as much as $18 per round for ballistic tipped ammunition.

However the police rejected the idea of the cost of ammo was relevant. This stunned us, as to us, ammo cost is clearly an important matter that must be taken into account.

In fact, the Standing Operating Procedures issued by bodies such Pestsmart specifically mention the need to cost effectively manage feral animal populations.

To a professional shooter, the cost of ammunition is obviously an important business expense which directly impacts on the cost of service and competitiveness.

Excess energy:  Another matter debated was the amount of energy that a .338 Lapau would carry if used at shorter ranges such as below 500 yards.

Using a .338 at medium or even close range was hardly a great idea. Why did WAPOL think it was a public safety risk in the Bent case but not in Adrian’s?

Expert witnesses

Both sides had expert witnesses, which resulted in the WA SAT asking them to provide a joint statement.

The experts agreed that the .270 was good up to 300 yards but could not agree on shooting up to 500 yards.

  • .300WM was suitable to shoot donkeys at 300-500 yards.
  • The cost of hunting with .338 ammunition was approximately twice that of .300WM
  • “Humane killing” was relevant when determining whether WA Police should approve or decline approval for the 300WM.

The Police experts disagreed that it was ethical to shoot at 500 yards and beyond, however our expert showed this is done on a regular basis, with clean kills, internationally.

The NSC’s expert also provided evidence about the impacts on heavy projectiles by cross wind, and what this means for clean kills. He also drew on the Victorian Government’s guide which specifies that .270 is the minimum calibre to be used for deer hunting  He also referred to other standard operating procedures by bodies that are responsible for accrediting professional culling contractors stating that the .300WM is the preferred calibre for feral horses, donkeys, camels, and other heavily boned and muscular animals such as wild cattle and scrub bulls.

We fight bad laws

The outcome

In her decision, Member Conley ruled:

Cost of ammunition: That the cost ammunition is not a relevant consideration. Here is what she said:

Cost of barrel replacement: Much the same.  Here she said the cost of wearing barrels out is not relevant.

Energy and over-penetration: The reference below to the IFS rules is a reference to being sure about the area in front of and behind where you shoot.

Unfortunately for Member Conley, she appears to have ignored the evidence that for longer range shooting, there is a risk an animal can move when the shot is taken which can change the background you are shooting at. 

The second statement she makes refers to an expert engaged by police and a sergeant from the registry who described the 338 as being a sniper calibre.

Rifle weight:  In evidence, our applicant said the weight of the 300 was around 5kg while the 338 was around 9kg when fully kitted up.  Here is what Member Conley said:

Member Conley’s conclusion was:

What this means for WA shooters is that they have a government and tribunal system that fails to understand the needs of shooters and encourages the use of higher powered cartridges at close range.

Another irony of the case is that WA Pol argued that a property of 182,000 hectares that Adrian was going to use, was too small to run a .300WM because it wouldn’t provide appropriate sight lines for 500 metres shots

Yet the same property had been licensed to shoot 50BMG which satisfies the same NATO safety template.

A de facto 'cap' on firearms

The SAT member stated a further reason for her decision was that Adrian had not agreed to WA Pol’s request that he relinquish his .338 in order to obtain the .300.

This means WAPol is imposing a cap how many firearms a licence holder can own, which is not what the WA Firearms Act requires.

This is a frustrating decision, but for anyone considering obtaining a .300, it provides what looks like an obvious work-around.  Just make sure you buy a .300 before getting a .338. This is because a .300 can shoot out to 1000m, which means your .338 can be justified when you need to go beyond that limit.

We're here for WA

The NSC is needed everywhere. However, it is particularly needed in WA where gun laws are expensive, impractical and dangerous.

It’s also why we need to have the WA police minister removed, so that someone can start cleaning up the mess that he has left behind.

11 thoughts on “Shock calibre decision: WA tribunal forces 338 to be used at medium distances

  1. Jonathan Laird says:

    Yet another appalling example of the lack of ethics and intelligence of the WA Police Force.
    The WA SAT has also shown itself to be tarred with the same brush.
    These fake corporate ‘government’ bodies are illegitimate and are not serving the interests of the people of WA.
    I intend to write letters of complaint to the SAT and to WAPOL.
    Thank you NSC for ‘stepping up to the plate’ again.
    It looks like the blackhats in these corporate bodies needed to have a win against the NSC at any cost. In the process they have shown their true colours which most resemble a criminal syndicate.

  2. Erik Wellington says:

    Yep… unfortunately the inadequate and inexperienced police, with their attitude f they are better than everyone and we are all just criminals waiting to be caught, have weighed in like gooses again. I’ve trained with them, I’ve trained them, there are only a very small number of police who actually have extensive firearms experience and knowledge, the rest, well we all know! but they all love sharing their lordly opinion. I’ve recently had a shiny-arsed sergeant at the registry make an incorrect call, plain as day, god complex call that goes against the policy, legislation, and police code of conduct, but I bet when it gets sorted not even an apology or any accountability.

    • Bill says:

      Let’s be real, if they had their way, they wouldn’t allow anyone to have firearms! I don’t even know why they have the forms to fill out to “allow” you to have one! And then when you get a gun and license sorted out they insult you with the “it’s a privilege, not a right to own a firearm!” Every step of the way they hate gun owners andmany members of any parliament do as well. The government’s got contempt for people generally speaking as well!

  3. Ken says:

    Shalom, I cannot for the life of me justify the decision WA Police to not grant this man a license for .300WM. He is a licensed feral disposal operator. Even I know as a former soldier for 18years {two depoloyments} and a former policeman you need something in between for the variation in animals.
    Z9YR23M Servo Per Amikeco

  4. Ian Caldwell says:

    The underlying agenda by ALL police forces is to disarm the civilian population. Because the laws WE follow are not those that criminals abide by. It has nothing to do with logic reason and intelligence. It is all to do with perception , so the ignorant public feel safe. But when the enemy is at the door who will they call, our undermanned military , our sport shooters ,who already use firearms.
    Ancient quote.
    Oligarchs and tyrants mistrust the people so deprive them of arms.

  5. Bill says:

    I am shocked that gun owers have to go through this! Imagine telling someone what kind of wheels you could put on your car, or what color to paint your house with! The wider community is ignorant or they don’t care…. We know the “freedom movement” would care. They think police tyranny started in 2020 when gun owners have had to live in hell for decades. It’s just another reminder that the governments hate us! The amount of money they waste on sports stadiums, the tyranny of 2020 on Victorians, the immigration policy, pretend freedom of speech and of course contempt for firearm owners. It will be begger’s belief if Dan Andrews gets elected again! (For all kinds of reasons!)

    I don’t understand why you can’t just use a different gun anyway. If you want to improve your performance, make it cost effective for your customer and yourself. It’s only a slightly different gun, right? Yeah…. it goes back to that point, the wider community would be outraged if they were dictated the color paint for their house or what type of tyres they would put on their cars! You get those MSN/Yahoo “outrage” stories everyday, but they never talk about the outrageous unfairness of firearm people. This pest controller just wants to do his job! He isn’t crying about a bad haircut after going to the barber like those “outraged by everything” media sites upload everyday!

    I think police in NSW a few years ago decided to change the type of car they drive around in. Did they ask anyone’s permission? Mention reasons regarding safety, fuel efficiency, performance, etc? Who makes these types of decisions in the police force? No one got upset about it. Funny how when the police want to feel more comfortable driving around town, they can get their problems sorted out no worries! But some licensed shooter that wants a better rifle and cheaper bullets… nah….. f___ you! Would call that rare sense. The whole decisions is!

    Do you think Mr Lippi should contact the ACCC?

  6. Michael Woods says:

    Shakes his head from side to side!!!!!!! I guess you can’t fix stupid! Thank F I don’t live in WA!
    Well done NSCA!

  7. Peter says:

    The next Court case will be…You cannot have a semi auto .22, but you can have a M60 machine gun iff you wish!

    It’s laughable,..what a bunch of clowns we have running this Country.

  8. Chas says:

    Can the decision be appealed to a full panel of the tribunal or a higher court?
    There are obviously clear grounds for appeal.

    I rember being stuck in Normanton Nth Qld in 1984 , the mechanic fixing my Landrover was a pro shooter, l was going to WA , he said don’t even get your guns out over there, that state was bad news
    All the more reason to go on with the case if possible
    Well done NSC

  9. Ian Fox says:

    The ignorance of the experts, not to mention the Police but above all one wonders whether Member Connolly has ever hunted in his life. A satisfactory outcome but for probably all the misconstrued reasons. OMG ?

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