Western Australia: Mixed reaction to proposed gun laws

There’s been a mixed reaction to Western Australia’s proposed gun law shake-up, as the consultation period opens for public comment.

The state government on Monday provided more detail on their Firearm Act review, the key change being the introduction of a hard limit to the amount of guns a licence holder can possess, depending on the license type.

For example, farmers would be limited to no more than 10 guns, recreational shooters could only own up to five, and sport shooters can only own 10 with the ability to apply to own more if they’re at the elite level.

But some shooters groups appear poised to oppose the tightening of the laws.

The WA Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party used a social media post to accuse Premier Roger Cook of “grandstanding” in his push for the reforms.

“Nothing like a bit of grandstanding Mr Cook!” the Party said in a Facebook statement.

“We very much doubt the criminal elements who make up WA’s gun violence statistics are going to change their ways because of the new gun laws.

“In case you aren’t aware, they don’t concern themselves with laws and public safety much.”

Shooters Union Australia also came out strongly against the proposal.

“Our disgust for WA’s upcoming cap on firearms numbers knows no bounds, and we are calling on every single shooter in WA – regardless of which organisation they belong to – to contact … their local MP to tell them these restrictions are completely unacceptable and must be rejected entirely,” the Union posted in a statement on Facebook.

“It’s got the most draconian gun laws in the entire country, and they’re getting worse for no reason other than the Government and media over there openly hate shooters almost on an individual level.”

But WAFarmers CEO Trevor Whittington said the 10 gun limit for farmers and pastoralists was acceptable.

“We’ve consulted with our members and the feedback is 10 is a reasonable number to have,” he told the ABC.

“I find it a bit strange that you’d put a cap on firearms, whether it’s one or five or 10 or 20, but at the end of the day, we can live with 10.”

Gun owners who own more firearms than the new limits would allow would need to “dispose” of their excess weapons before any amendments come into effect.

The guns can either be sold or surrendered, with plans for a state-funded buyback scheme also in the works.

WA’s Police Minister Paul Papalia on Monday said he expects the laws to only impact about five per cent of total license holders.

“Public safety is paramount, and that has been the key consideration when drafting the proposed legislation,” he said.

“If there are fewer firearms in the community, there are fewer opportunities for them to be used illegally.”

Public consultation on the Firearms Act review opened on Tuesday.

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