“You’d have to think there’s a lot of those 349,000 firearms out there just sitting around not being used, waiting to be stolen..”

– Paul Papalia, Minister for Police – WA

WA’s POLICE MINISTER, Paul Papalia, has announced a complete rewrite of the WA Firearms Act, which he says is out of date and ‘too liberal’. 

He says there are too many guns held by licensed shooters, and it is too easy for criminals to get licences to have guns.

police minister says wa shooters have Too many guns

On 22 March, The West Australian newspaper ran a front-page story about how many guns are in the community, almost ‘one gun owner in every street

P1, The West Australian – 22 March 2022

Gun owners are furoius that their locations were revealed

The article says “shocking” maps provided to the  paper by the registry reveal “the true scale of gun ownership in suburban Perth”, and “demonstrate how firearms are seemingly located in every suburb and on every street across the city”.

It quotes Papalia as saying “You’d have to think there’s a lot of those 349,000 firearms out there just sitting around not being used, waiting to be stolen..” and how we wasquite taken aback by the scale of gun ownership in Perth. 

This page 4 article was clearly orchestrated with the Minister

This comes from the same minister who recently and falsely claimed that gel blasters can be converted to real working firearms.  Readers may recall our recent story on that, which you can see by clicking here.

“There’s a bullet hole at my house’’

Shooters who contacted the NSC have raised real concern about the accuracy of location of the map showing where they store their guns.  There are now multiple complaints about the breach of privacy that have been lodged with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. 

As one shooter said:

“there’s a bullet hole at my house”.

Another complaint we received was:

“I knocked on four doors on my block and found four licensed firearms owners.
The map is far more accurate than the police claim.”

Imagine the uproar there would be if the same map was developed to reveal the residential locations of police officers, politicians or journalists with such precision. 

It was unnecessary and petty for the paper to do what they did, and for the registry to help them.

Who you can complain to

We encourage any shooter in WA who is concerned about the breach of their privacy to contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s office, by clicking here.  Please note their process requires you to have already raised your concern with WA Police.  

Shooters in WA might also want to consider complaining to their local MP.  Click here to find who your local MP is.

Our FOI response

In the meantime, we immediately put a Freedom of Information request to WA Police for a copy of all the documents (including electronic files) that they provided to the paper.  That way, we’ll get to see whether the police provided actual locations, and who put the ‘bullet holes’ in the front page map.

What laws could change?

The Government has not released any information that details the changes they are considering.  However, we’ve come across a questionnaire that they are now circulating to clubs, which gives some clues on what they might be:

These are just three.  From what we saw in the media, we’re concerned that the government will push for:

  • restrictions on the number and type of cat A/B firearms a shooter can hold;
  • similar restrictions on ammo;
  • reduced rights of appeal, especially where licences may be suspended or cancelled;
  • tougher storage and club requirements; and
  • higher licensing and registration costs.

papalia announces review of firearms act

The next day (23 March), the paper ran this front page story.

The first paragraph started by saying “Domestic abusers, long-time criminals and the mentally unwell” have firearm licences.

Yet s11 of the WA Firearms Act 1973 disqualifies people convicted of offences involving violence or firearms or where the persion is not “fit and proper” or where it is not in “the interests of public safety” from holding licences. 

The editorial says there is “a great deal of potentially lethal weapons from Geraldton down to Perth and across to Esperance”, and how the number of gun licences “soared” over the last 13 years.

It also says West Australians will “want to see the McGowan Government tighten the rules to make sure that the community is as safe as possible…” and that “it’s hard to believe that these powers [to take guns from offenders] do not exist already”.

This is where the paper clearly has not done it’s own research.

The paper uses the example of the case of a person who had 121 criminal convictions, including beating his daughter with a broomstick which WA Police lost in the State Administrative Tribunal.  The paper did not explain why the police lost their case or why they did not appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

P8 & 9, The West Australian – 23 March 2022

In other words, the police chose not to challenge the decision, which we assume might point to a defect in the way they did their work.  

If the SAT or Supreme Court felt WA’s gun laws were deficient, they would have said something – but they haven’t.

We submit a second FOI…

Again, the NSC immediately put a Freedom of Information request to WA Police for a copy of all the documents (including electronic files) that they provided to the paper for these latter documents.

We’re particularly interested in seeing what, if anything, the police said about the quality of their evidence and any advice they received on whether to appeal.

Covering up incompetence

The problem in WA isn’t with the laws. It’s with the competency of the police to make proper decisions and support their cases with their lawyers.

We have run several cases at the WA SAT and won every one of them.  The reason for this is that WA police have been quick to pass judgement without having a basis.  

We currently have two cases in WA at the SAT that involve restrictions on calibres, where it is clear that the knowledge of WA Police’s own experts is dated and limited.   In one case, our expert says of WA Police’s experts:

“their knowledge about the modern sport of Long Range/Extreme Range (LR/ER) hunting and shooting is very poor insofar as it relates to equipment, ballistics, projectile construction etc”

… and

“They misrepresent some things in documents they reference (e.g. the Code of Practice for the Capture and Marketing of Feral Animals in western Australia)”

That’s why they keep losing cases.

Our immediate response

Here’s seven things we’ve done so far or are doing

  • We have put in two FOI requests to find out exactly what the WA Police gave the media;
  • We’re making as many shooters in WA as possible aware of what their government is up through social and traditional media and get them to lobby their local member;
  • With a federal election due in May, we’ll drag Labor’s federal candidates into this to get them to put pressure on their party colleagues to stop these attacks;
  • We’ll do a targetted letterbox drop in the minister’s own electorate to make sure his voters know how damaging his laws will be to the state;
  • We have already helped shooters take complaints to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, and are about to encourage more to do the same;
  • We’ve complainted to the WA Crime and Corruption Commission and Premier;
  • We’ve appointed a WA NSC State Rep and Coordinator

More will need to be done, but this is what is already underway.

What else we're doing

Federal Election

While gun laws are a state issue, the federal government also has some buy-in gun laws, as it controls firearms at the border and coordinates the National Firearms Agreement.

With the federal election likely to be held in May, we’ll be putting pressure on Labor candidates to convince their state counterparts to dump Papalia’s plans.

At the very least, his office needs to speak with ours, and go through the issues of concern.  However until then, we’re taking a blanket approach to have the changes stopped.

How you can help

We’re going to raise this issue with as many shooters in WA.   We’ll be ramping this up through social and traditional media.

You’ll see the start of this happen next week, following another major announcement that we have in store for you that is going to help our fight in WA.

That’s why we’re asking shooters to support our campaign through supporting our work program .. and join the NSC to make us stronger!


33 thoughts on “WA: Papalia’s review of gun laws

  1. jack says:

    Keep up the good work ,I notice the Lenora WA Branch of the SSAA is one of the NSC sponsors ,pity the rest of the SSAA
    is profoundly silent . Another thing ,everyone has to have a “” License , Permit ,or Accreditation before they can work or enjoy a particular sport , or past time , why not Politicians ,who are in charge of multi million dollar portfolios .?

  2. bird on a wire says:

    I guess with the Global Covid-19 SCAMDEMIC becoming more and more discovered everyday ..and the deaths and injuries (reported and unreported) from the fake vaccines ..Freemasonic police inspectors and ministers everywhere, are getting a tad more nervous about citizens firearms rights.

    • DJCoopes says:

      Sadly we don’t have recognised Firearms rights here in Australia. Also maybe tone it down a notch mate, this is a publicly viewable discussion, we don’t want to add fuel to the fire

  3. Sam Sinclair says:

    What I don’t quite understand is where is this coming from all of a sudden? Has there been a spike in gun crime? Where does Papalia get his supposition that guns are just laying around unused and waiting to be picked up by criminals?

    • Frank says:

      It has ALWAYS been there. But when West Australians vote in a govt with a massive majority the parties “make hay whilst the sun shines”. Make no mistake, the disarming of civilians is the policy of ALL the major parties. When they get voted in with such huge majorities they do as much as they can knowing the swing against them needs to be huge to kick them out at the next election, which would be unlikely.

  4. Jonathan Laird says:

    As someone who grew up and resides in WA, I reiterate my conviction that WA is both a police and a nanny state. The state government has always had a predilection for corruption, heavy handedness and for working ‘hand in glove’ with the ‘shadow government’ – the main stream media. I have held shooters licences in two other states, and say without hesitation, that WA is the most expensive and onerous state to be a shooter in. Private gun ownership was considered a cornerstone of national security in WW2, and WA was as vulnerable as it gets. Stop the childish scaremongering WA Govt, and impress us with respect and engagement for a change.

  5. Michael Mazur says:

    The guns the police have are bought with our money, and until we the people give affirmation to the guns and ammo component of the police budget passed by parliament that part has no validity.

  6. Politenessman says:

    In their questionnaire they state that in Tas you can only have 2 x Cat H, this is a demonstrable lie. I myself own 3 and subject to showing a reason, could own 6 in the same shooting discipline without even increasing my required number of club shoots beyond my current 6 per year. (you can confirm these numbers by downloading a copy of the ‘participation rate record’ from firearm services Tasmania).

    There should be a royal commission into why the police released the address information, which is an actionable shopping list for criminals.
    Also it might be worth talking to the newspapers competition and suggest that the original paper missed the real story in their haste to do the Govts bidding – the real story is that whilst there are a lot of firearms in the hands of law abiding citizens, there is almost no firearm crime in Perth that relates to those people or their firearms. I’d also ask what the Govt/Police are trying to distract from by releasing this information.

  7. Barry P says:

    Meanwhile the Gestapo police run around open carrying semi automatic handguns for the specific purpose of shooting dead the Australia people. Plus they have granted themselves the exclusive right to own M4 assault rifles to attack people with while police themselves commit daily criminal acts of fraud, violence and domestic terrorism and they work so hard to ciminalise the innocent.

    • EB says:

      So call someone else when the proverbial hits the fan. I think you’ll find the vast majority of serving Police are good people who want nothing more than to do their best for the community. The issue is the higher ups who implement and influence legislation which the bulk of the community find abhorrent.

      • Michael Mazur says:

        This is why we need 2A unmodified. “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. 1791.”

        That police have firearms is an infringement on this right of the people.

  8. Russell (grumpy old man...) says:

    Unfortunately “Bird on Wire”, using this forum as a means of spreading further misinformation from the “anti-vax” brigade does little to address the real issue here and only provides unnecessary ammunition to those seeking to discredit our arguments. The simple reality is that the minister’s proposals, the media’s outrageous lack of thought behind the publication of firearms owners locations and the likely breech of basic privacy and confidentiality legislation by the WA Police are based on an alarming level ignorance and lack of thought and process.

  9. Aaron M says:

    ….dig deep fellas. This kind of work is expensive, and to think it’s being spent on those bloody drongos in W.A. ;>)

  10. Carl says:

    I no longer buy the tabloid propaganda rag . did they show country as well as metro? hi density metro is a problem but low density country is even more of a worry. Far easier for crims to target residences in the country.

  11. Mike Woods says:

    Well Done NSCA! Makes one wonder where/who the WA Govt are receiving this info/advise from……..the relevant politicians and bureaucrats need sacking. TF I don’t live in WA.

  12. Tim says:

    As a hopeful graduate of the study of law and ex-member (Navy) of the ADF I feel totally repulsed by the actions and conduct of the current Premier and Police Minister. What happen to Honour, Honesty, Courage, Integrity and Loyalty? You change when you become a politician? Being lead by Naval officers of this so called “caliber”, is why there is probably an issue with the long term retention of junior and middle ranks becoming senior career service members. It’s hard to image these two men representing the interests of ordinary and reasonable Western Australians. (Excuse the pun). This last batch of current baby boomers are not successfully governing, planning a secure a strong future for the rest of us. They do not compare to their predecessors and traditional Australian values.

    As the Premier is/was a lawyer he does not seem to recognise legislated Acts like the Constitution and the basics of human rights. Some important pieces of primary legislation help protects our overall package of basic rights such as those contained in ss55 & 56 (fundamental) which is supported by ss 57, 58, 76-80 & 135-37 of the Evidence Act (Cth) concerning the relevance and admissibility of evidence in Courts. The Government is not transparent even with FOI requests, which is heavily censured (currently feels and sounds familiar like somewhere else in the world).

    Police do not even understand the basic principles of evidence and proof, yet alone rationalise how an ordinary person obtains a plastic toy H&K MP5, then converts it to an illegal military specification firearm to use it as a weapon in a robbery without even considering ballistics? OMG, the Police cannot even follow their own rules and statutory procedures. One of the reasons why real criminals often walk away from their heinous acts without a conviction.

    Although I do not own guns (yet) I have a simple basic knowledge, understanding and respect for those that do, professional and non-professional by having active engagement over many years as an a keen enthusiast. Not point just talking about it.

    What I am really worried about is the way legitimate existing legislation is being rewritten beyond what is reasonable and suitable for a progressive and contemporary society. It is very obvious the lawyers and decision makers drafting the new changes to WA legislation have minimum or extremely poor understanding of the operation, handling of firearms and technical expertise write such laws. The politicians and Police are attempting to complicate and confuse the ordinary and reasonable person; with incompetence and false information. the It’s a bigger picture about criminalising reasonable and innocent people without justice. Such as the Gel Ball Community and folks who are not vaccinated. This are both summary and indictable offences under the WA Criminal Code. You get a criminal record for these alleged offences? This is really F???ed up. This is one of the reasons I hope I graduate soon so I can maybe work on issues of this nature in the future. Now would be better.

    The political agenda in this state presently is highly motivated on getting votes and gun laws seem to be a very easy heart string target. Policing resources should be focused on the real criminality in society like corporate fraud and corruption in the public and private sector including Government corruption, illegal drug manufacturer and trafficking/supply, real guns and weapons trafficking/supply, people trafficking/supply of cheap foreign labour, assault on vulnerable people (women, children, elderly and others abused in the community), illegal criminal operations & activity; the ‘usual suspects’ to name a few.
    The Constitution is 122 years old and extremely difficult to change or alter. WA gun laws are 40 years old? So there were no gun laws in place previously? In principle, the policy and decision makers are making the existing gun legislation more convoluted and complicated. The current state Government has an absolute majority in Parliament but I wonder if there is something wrong with scenario. The opposition and minor parties look under represented. My thoughts and comments are not based on conspiracy theory but my own informed personal opinion. Do I really want want to be a legal practitioner at the end of the day? Hell yeah, fighting to save the rights of the ordinary person! I am an ordinary person too. Not privileged or wealthy like the stereotype. Ordinary!

    The difficult challenge here is getting the wider external community to see the big picture that basic human rights are being taken away by the State. However, Gun laws have a strong connecting link in the chain of evidence which affects a significant part of the community.

    I am not a career academic, crackhead, gun nerd or a lawyer.
    I think I am just supporting only one section of the community in this forum but a significant one who can effect the balance of democratic power for the correct moral and ethical reasons. I am sharing what I know which is my and what I have been professionally taught.

    What more can I do for this community even though I won’t be legally qualified until the end of ‘22? Lol, another pun?

    • Charles Hillan says:

      If you can locate a work called a history of firearm laws you will find we have hade them back when WA was first settled in those days the firearm license was a tax. Unfortunately 2 detectives were murdered in kal and a police officer fatally wounded in a pub by a drunken roustabout who was evicted from the pub. It was then given to the police to control since then the police have at every opportunity tried to remove firearms from the community. The last review of the firearm act was in 2008 where the biggest change was the development of the firearms department where the applications were no longer made at the police station. We were told it would mean more decisions would be the same, faster turnabout, less expense. The cost sky rocket, some decisions made were questionable but all in all no great drama. Several weeks ago we were asked to report any illegal or unlicensed firearms we knew of, why in the hell would we do this when we are treated like criminals.

  13. Sally says:

    It’s because he is incapable of dealing with the criminal element in society who arm themselves with illegal firearms, so his silly assumption is that by gunning for legal owners, his crims won’t be able to get firearms. He is an April fool all year round!

  14. Terry Ealing says:

    How many deaths by gunfire Mr. Papalia and McGowan since you opened back up the Border? But you did demolish the Private Property Rights Inquiry and limit any more inquiries . The Watchdogs like the ombudsman and A.C.C.C. are all toothless tigers now and do not protect communities from gravel and sand Mining problems like here in Busselton W.A.. Once you really know the workings of this present government you will not vote for them again. I have just put in new farm fences and suddenly the Kangaroo count has risen. So how do we deal with that problem without the correct calibre Guys? We are helpless in our own country even when we are trying to do the right thing. God help us all with this huge contingent of politicians and public servants in charge of our lives!

    • DJCoopes says:

      What sand and gravel mining operation do you see as being harmful? I think that many of them are useful as they limit how far out the developments go, as developers don’t want to build right next to a mine. plus they represent an important part of the local economy here in Busselton

  15. Yellow Jacket says:

    If you dig up a little information about the WA Police Minister you will find that he served in the SAS carrying out “humanitarian”work for the United Nations. LOL It’s funny how these ex military globalist anti-gun crazies worm there way into politics. Considering the fact he carried and extensibly used firearms himself it really does make him a total hypocrite of the worst kind. My late grand father who served in WW2 would NEVER of had such an ignorant attitude about firearms like this man does. I will say it again, do not EVER vote for Labour, Liberal or the Greens. They flat out hate democracy. Many of them are also foreign agents and complete liars that CANNOT be trusted to run this country.

  16. Dave. says:

    I am appalled at the knee-jerk reaction and sensationalist seeking action taken by both our Premier, Police minister and the West Australian. Although I am a Liberal voter, I have had a growing respect for Mark McGowan and his down to earth attitude and very un labour like policies. How could he allow such an irresponsible act to occur with the West Australian paper. There should be consequences as a definite breach of privacy has occurred. The West Australian has turned into a gutter rag, too keen to sensationalise, and McGowan has got the issue wrong. Please Mr McGowan, what is the problem, let us help solve it. It’s certainly not your legitimate gun owners. If its deadly crimes you are wishing to address, bearly a day goes by that a stabbing doesn’t occur, your time would be far better used in addressing the matter of universally available knives in the hands of perpetrators not legitimatly owned guns.

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