The NSW Government’s response to shooters over controversial proposed guns laws has been called “glib” and “absolutely unacceptable” by the gun lobby.
In response to the largest petition ever tabled in NSW Parliament, Police Minister David Elliott filed the government’s official response, saying, “It is not the intention of the Bill to criminalise the behaviour of legitimate firearms licence holders.”
The petition, organised by the SSAA, had asked that the government build in protections for law-abiding shooters who feared having regular firearms-related tasks and repairs caught up in the law’s wording.
Mr Elliot repeated the government’s statement that the Bill is aimed at criminal gangs.
“It is vital that the NSW Police Force is able to respond to serious and organised criminal groups who have the means and ingenuity to seek alternative [sic] by which to produce firearms,” he said.
He said the flaw in existing laws was that an offence could only be proved if a functioning firearm was actually made, rather than being only partially completed.
“I understand that there is misplaced concern regarding the possession of household items by firearms licence holders,” Mr Elliott said.
“This Bill does not criminalise the mere possession of an item which could potentially be used in the unauthorised manufacture of a firearm.”
The government’s response gave no indication that the Bill would be revised as requested in the petition, to “ensure that the final draft of the Bill does not criminalise legal firearms owners and that citizens of NSW are not subject to the loss of civil liberties because of the Bill”.
In a letter to Mr Elliott, the NSW state coordinator of the Shooters Union, Craig Golding, said, “Your response to the e-petition … gives us the strong impression you simply do not see this issue as being particularly significant.
“The fact that 28,456 NSW residents signed the petition is clear proof that concerns over the Bill’s scope and contents are not unfounded.
“It is absolutely unacceptable for you, as responding Minister, to essentially brush the petition off with a glib response that completely fails to genuinely acknowledge the very real concerns the petitioners raised.”
Mr Golding said his scepticism was reinforced by a comment Mr Elliott made on social media in 2019, when the Police Minister wrote, “I’m really struggling with the whole ‘shooters have rights too’ thing.”
The full version of the Shooters Union letter is available below: