SSAA NSW Awaits Federal Government’s Future Firearms Amnesty

With the Federal Government's announcement by Justice Minister The Hon. Michael Keenan MP confirming a new national firearms amnesty will be introduced by the end of 2016, the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (NSW) Inc. (SSAA NSW) awaits the comprehensive details and proposed schedule of the amnesty program in order to measure its true effectiveness.

SSAA NSW supports any measures that aid in the combat against illegal firearms and the reduction of gun-related crime in Australia, however a national firearms amnesty will not resolve the issue of illegal firearms.

"In light of the recent surge in gun-related crime being reported in Melbourne, a focus on illegal firearms is what’s required. But will an amnesty really resolve this issue and stop criminals from obtaining illegal firearms? Unfortunately, the answer is too often no," said SSAA NSW Executive Director Diana Melham.

"What this amnesty will possibly achieve, once the details have been finalised, is for a reduction in grey market firearms – for example, somebody who may have their grandfather's old gun in the back shed that hasn't been registered or a rifle that wasn’t previously turned over or registered in the 1996 buyback and is now classified as illegal. These are the kinds of circumstances that an amnesty works well for where law-abiding citizens have the opportunity to surrender unregistered firearms without any penalty."

SSAA NSW represents more than 55,000 members throughout the State including elite athletes who have represented Australia at the highest level of international competition and juniors who hope to one-day reach those same heights – all of whom are subject to some of the strictest firearms laws in the world.

"The reality is that whenever firearms-related issues are raised in the media, often-times our members are left worrying what new laws the Government of the day will come up with to further restrict their sport," continued Melham. "Which is why it’s important to differentiate between people who legally own registered firearms for the purpose of sport, conservation, hunting and pest animal management, as opposed to illegal firearms on the black market and unregistered guns – which are what the amnesty is targeting."

SSAA NSW acknowledges Minister Keenan’s confirmation that there will be no further restrictions on legal gun ownership at this time, and his comment that he thinks "we've got some of the strictest gun ownership laws in the world."

"Purchasing a firearm in NSW is a lengthy process which involves appropriate licensing and the requirement for a permit," said Melham. "What’s required to obtain a firearms license is a genuine reason such as target shooting, hunting or collecting, the completion of theory- and practical-based firearm safety tests as well as an extensive police background check. An individual must also demonstrate to Police that they have the correct facilities to store a firearm safely as well as meet the obligations for transportation and usage of that registered firearm."

It's SSAA NSW's intention to work with Government on sensible and effective firearms laws. "But we must focus on the criminals with illegal firearms," further commented Melham. "We must make it more difficult for them to get their hands on illegal firearms. And when people are caught with illegal guns, we must make sure the punishment fits the crime because no one wants illegal firearms off our streets more than licensed, law-abiding firearm owners."

SSAA NSW is the peak body dedicated to promoting, protecting and preserving a sustainable shooting sports industry. With over 55,000 members across NSW, the Association represents the safe, fun and all-inclusive range of shooting sports available today. As the leading authority on the safe handling and use of firearms, SSAA NSW also make important contributions to government policy direction, industry research and development, tailored educational programs and training, legal and ethical hunting and conservation, and the facilitation and promotion of responsible wildlife management for farmers with pest issues to seek the assistance of its network of volunteer hunters throughout the State.

Download SSAA NSW Standard Branch Constitution here