SSAA NSW supports the lowering of the minimum age for minors firearms permits to 10 years – something we’ve been advocating for some years now.

It makes perfect sense, especially as shooting is an Olympic and Commonwealth Games sport; one that Australian representatives are very successful at.  Reducing the minimum age will increase the opportunity for minors to develop their skills and enable Australia to grow the pool and ability of its representative talent.

It was good to see a relatively balanced article in the Sydney Morning Herald on this subject; SSAA NSW was asked to provide comment and our statement can be read here.  

As is to be expected, the comments made by Gun Control Australia are misleading with claims that:

  • large numbers of guns being stolen from residential homes” easily refuted with the fact that:
    • A 2014 Greens-led Senate Inquiry into ‘The ability of Australian law enforcement authorities to eliminate gun-related violence in the community’ found no evidence to suggest that firearms stolen from licensed owners is the predominant source of supply for criminals or the black market. In fact, the Senate Inquiry report signed by the majority of Committee members found that “The hypothesis that illegal guns are mainly stolen from registered gun owners was not supported by the evidence presented to the Committee.” The Senate Inquiry majority report also acknowledged our nation’s porous borders and lack of policing and border patrol resources as having a real effect on the number of illegal firearms coming into our country and into the hands of criminals of organised crime syndicates.
    • Both the NSW Police Minister Troy Grant and Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan have publicly stated that the issue is criminals and illegal firearms NOT the law abiding firearms owners.  More than 97% of gun crime is committed using illegal firearms.
    • The Australian Institute of Criminology has previously stated that less than 1 per cent of shipping containers bringing goods into this country are checked by the Australian Border Force or Customs. According to the AIC, police and other sources, the existing black market in Australia is mostly divided into criminal gangs, whose main focus are crimes rather than dealing with firearms, or small networks of individuals who buy or sell by word of mouth. Nonetheless, firearms traffickers play a significant role in supplying firearms to persons with a criminal intent.
  • minors permits are a breach of the 1996 Port Arthur Firearm Agreement” easily refuted with the fact that:
    • The minimum age set out in the NFA only refers to eligible age for a shooters licence which would allow a person to own and use firearms. Minors of an age prescribed in the regulations may only shoot under strict supervision of a licenced adult. They cannot own any firearms or shoot unsupervised.
    • This was also reiterated by the NSW Police spokesman who said that minors’ permits were not in breach of the agreement: "It addresses the age for licences and puts this at 18 years." and "Supervision of minor[s] is strictly enforced by clubs and ranges – parent allows a minor to shoot on their own property under supervision.”
    • The minimum age for a minors permit in Queensland is 10 years and there has not been any incidents as a result. 

Further claims that “gun ownership in Australia was increasing” are easily explained by the growth in population.  Legal ownership of firearms is in accordance with strict laws that dictate access is only available to those with a firearms licence.  These laws also dictate that a permit is required to purchase every firearm, what types of firearms can be possessed as well as how and where they can be used.

Statements like “a dismantling of our gun laws” are yet another example of baseless comments with absolutely no evidence to back them.  There has been no dismantling of firearms laws in NSW. Successive state governments have aligned with the NFA, and have in fact introduced laws and policies that go beyond the NFA such as the additional requirements introduced for the purchase and recording of ammunition sales. 

As usual, GCA and the Greens have nothing credible to add to the debate, they continue to use misinformation and scaremongering campaigns based on nonsense to peddle their anti-gun agenda.

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