THE VICTORIAN STATE PARLIAMENT has passed new gun laws that will make it easier to slap 10-year gun bans on shooters, and require many shooters to pay for new gun safes.
Even more disappointing is that the Opposition offered little resistance to the laws – and ended up voting with the government.
The new laws mean:
- The number of police officers who can issue 10 year gun bans will jump from 55 to 299;
- Gun safes must now have steel walls of 1.6mm – and cannot be used to store other valuables in them such as passports.
We’ve already named MPs who misled parliament – and we’re about to name some more. However, we’ll congratulate a couple of others on the way through.
It’s why the NSC will start targeting the electorates of some of the MPs involved as we head towards year’s Victorian State Election.
Who's to blame?
There are three from Labor. They are:
- Victoria’s Police minister, Labor MP Lisa Neville; and
- her Parliamentary Secretary, Labor MP Paul Edbrooke; and
- Labor MP Gayle Tierney, Minister for Higher Education, Training and Skills.
At the helm of the coalition’s lame response was shadow police Minister, Brad Battin. Battin, a former officer himself, showed little interest in taking the fight up with the government for Victorian shooters. His closing words on the bill were:
“But from the view of the opposition, we will not oppose this bill, and we will ensure we put through amendments in the future.”
Amendments? We’ll come back to that a bit later in this article – but we’re going to have a close look at his electorate as well.
What the new laws do
10-year gun bans
The laws, which we strongly opposed, will make it easier for police to ban anyone from owning firearms for 10 years for even trivial matters. They will also be subjected to warrantless searches and barred from going anywhere where firearms are stored or used.
The main problem with the laws is that they can be issued for someone’s ‘behaviour’, or who they associate with. The law does not say what that is or that the behaviour even needs to be illegal – or that the person they associate with has done anything illegal.
While the laws came into effect in 2018, the changes expand the delegation of the power to issue the bans from 55 police officers, to 299.
It is the lack of definitions in the Firearms Act that is the problem. We’re not against them being used to stop criminal activities.
However as one MP said in Parliament, they have been used against licensed shooters – and now we can expect more of these bans to be issued.
The new laws change the requirements from holding guns in containers that are made out of hardwood or steel “that is not easily penetrable”, to now only being made out steel with wall thicknesses of at least 1.6mm thickness.
In addressing the upper house on 14 October, Labor MP Gayle Tierney said
“ The subcommittee of the Victorian Firearms Consultative Committee consisting of representatives of peak firearm bodies in Victoria considered and decided upon the steel thickness of at least 1.6 millimetres for an upgraded firearm storage requirement. A steel thickness of at least 1.6 millimetres is believed not to be excessive or overly burdensome.”
Twisting the truth
The passage of the legislation through parliament contained several statements that were simply untrue.
THE NSC WAS CONSULTEDNo he didn’t. We’ve never spoken with him. The NSC sought a meeting with Mr Battin, but we were rebuffed.
Shadow Police Minister, Gembrook MP, Brad Battin, told Parliament he consulted the NSC on the bill.
GUN SAFE RULES WERE WRITTEN BY SHOOTING ORGANISATIONS
Parliament was told by Paul Edbrooke that the new requirement was the result of recommendations from the Firearms Consultative Committee.
As we previously reported, sources say this is incorrect. We understand the committee recommended other options that included arrangements that Parliament wasn’t told about.
Edbrooke’s claim was repeated in the upper house by upper house Labor MPs Cesar Melham then Gayle Tierney. It was then repeated by the Liberal’s Gordon Rich-Phillips – because that is what he was told by Labor.
We recommended to the Liberal Party that they ask for the Committee’s minutes to be tabled in Parliament in the interests of transparency.
However this was not done. They just took Labor’s word for it.
- THERE WAS WIDE CONSULTATION ON THE BILL
Edbrooke named members of the Firearms Consultative Committee who he said ‘made the legislation’.
There are two problems with the claim. First, is what we told you about safes. The second is this timeline:
Someone’s clearly lying – and its not FGA.
What you can use a gun safe for
At the same sitting of parliament on 14 October, Labor’s Gayle Tierney said what you can use gun safes for:
“It is only used as a receptacle for guns, not for storage of other items in the house.”
If you were to take literally, it means you can’t store anything else in your gun safe. Not even your passport …
Amendments that were defeated
Some amendments to the legislation were proposed by the minor parties. They include:
- GEL BLASTERS & AIRSOFT
Tim Quilty (LDP) wanted to legalise gel blasters and airsoft. Labor and Liberal /Nationals opposed this so it was defeated
- T-SHIRT CANNONS
Jeff Bourman (SFFP) wanted to relax the classification of t-shirt cannons as category E firearms. The result was the same as above.
- FIT & PROPER PERSONS
Tim Quilty (LDP) wanted speeding and COVID fines to be excluded as reasons why a shooter is a NOT fit and proper person. Readers might recall this is a matter the NSC reported several instances where this happened last year, where shooters licences got suspended for these minor matters.
In speaking on this, the Liberal Party’s Gordon Rich-Phillips referred to our previous work on this saying:
“ It is a fact that certainly last year a number of firearm licence holders who had received infringements in relation to COVID matters—masks and the like—did receive a letter from LRD questioning their fit and proper person status to hold a firearms licence.”
Yet despite this, the Liberals / Nats voted with the Government to defeat the amendment!
- FPO CONDITIONS
Tim Quilty (LDP) wanted to enable the 10 year gun ban orders conditions modified to allow for conditions to enable the person who is subject to an order to do anything that may be reasonable to do, such as dropping of kids at an in-laws place where firearms may be stored. This was defeated.
Libs fail to deliver on amendments
However one thing that really stands out to us is that the Liberal / National Party didn’t propose any amendments.
This is despite Battin saying in the lower house that the Liberals “will ensure we put through amendments”.
What some of the other MPs said
Quite a few MPs had their say on the legislation, which we felt was worth mentioning. Check out to see what the following MPs said.
While he’s a not a fan of the NSC, Mr Rich-Phllips is supportive of the shooting sports and we do think his performance is worth a gold star.
He did do a good job of asking questions and grilling the government.
However he ended up towing the party line and voted with the government to pass the legislation – without the promised amendments.
Barton paid out on the NSC offering nothing of any use to the debate. He said:
There have been some groups that have provided a view that this bill will have your local copper knocking on your door to take your firearms away for a minor traffic offence. This is not the case.
Yet he went on to say that some gun bans have been served on firearm owners.
Barton’s accusation confirms what we’ve been saying, which is that the gun bans can be issued because of unspecified ‘behaviour’. That’s way too open-ended.
Also no friend of shooters, Ms Patten raised good points about problems with the 10 year bans. Speaking as the chair of a parliamentary committee which looked into this matter, she said:
“these completely trample on fundamental human rights.”
“This should be an incredibly serious, serious order that really, I would say, only a court should make, but okay, we have dispensed with that; we have said that senior police officers can make this. But now this bill is amending that to say, ‘No. Junior police officers can make this; police officers, inspectors in stations can make firearms prohibition orders’”
“We were incredibly concerned at the ability for these orders to be issued, and we thought that it could lead to inconsistent practices and confusion. In fact we were pretty firm about this. We noted that the VCAT case that actually led to the inquiry—you know, in some ways this showed the trampling and the overarching heaviness of this legislation. The reason that VCAT heard the case and in actual fact overturned those firearm prohibition orders—and I note that obviously that order was changed—was because they thought it overrode. They thought that it was beyond what was acceptable”
Yet Patten voted with the government.
While we often disagree with him, Jeff’s performance on this bill was good.
On part of the bill affecting firearm dealers, he gave this example of why the new ban on labelling parcels was a dumb idea:
“If I was, say, Melbourne Gun Dealer Co sending it to Sydney Gun Dealer Co, what am I going to do when I want to label where it is from and where it is going to, because it will clearly be a firearm. It will be about that long, about that wide, about that thick, and heavy. I do not think it was very well thought out, and I will just seek to remove that. I do not think it is workable.”
On the storage requirements he said:
“The storage requirements are a bit of victim blaming”
He voted against the changes.
Always a strong supporter of shooting, Mr Quilty noted the problem that the new safe requirements would have for licence holders that were renters.
“If you do not own your own house, you cannot bolt down a safe, and you will no longer be able to own firearms”
As we stated earlier above, Tim also fought hard for sensible amendments which were defeated. He also voted against the bill.
What can the NSC do about this? Plenty...
The NSC is not a political party and have no range or commercial ties, which means we’re free to take on a strategy that targets any MP who does us damage, and support those who helps us.
With the Victorian State Election coming, the events of the past few days has given us a few ideas of who to pursue. These include at least two Labor MPs and a crossbencher. The double dealing of the opposition means they’re not exempt from our focus either. These will be in addition to those we have already made decisions on.
Our message to the major parties is that there is a price to pay for treating shooters with contempt. These restrictions deserve swift and decisive action and we intend to hold you to account.
How you can help
We’ll continue to expose bad behaviour and make sure our voting advice sends the message that politicians need to hear.
With a state election now not too far away, the NSC will be sending the Andrews Government a message about the shoddy way it has treated shooters. It’s a message that also needs to be heard by the Opposition, so they will be part of this as well.
If you’re unimpressed by what has been going on, then don’t cop it. Help us stop stuff like this from happening.