This summer, Australia experienced an unprecedented bushfire season – the devastation of natural environments, native animals, stock and property will be felt for years. The tragic loss of human life, forever.
It is an unfortunate reality that the NSW community is becoming more accustomed to preparing for natural emergency events – bushfire, flood, cyclone, storm – with many households having their evacuation and disaster plans mapped out and ready to operationalise at a minute’s notice. These plans are key in identifying who to contact, who to mobilise, what to take, and when to leave. Sometimes these decisions must be made when minutes or seconds can be the difference between being safe or being stranded.
Just one of the many dangers in a natural disaster is around the security and whereabouts of firearms. With the wide scale destruction of property, firearms may be lost, damaged or displaced. Unfortunately, and reprehensibly, following a natural disaster, criminals take advantage of the confusion that ensues.
In January 2020, the Firearms Registry worked with local police and the Rural Fire Service to identify, contact and assist customers who had been affected by the bushfires across NSW.
Where possible and necessary, we encouraged licence holders to make alternate safe storage arrangements at police stations, firearms dealers, or with another appropriate licence holder, and to make the necessary notifications to the Firearms Registry.
The Firearms Registry also made direct contact with peak associations and the firearms dealer network to ask for a unified approach to assist with licence holders, clubs and range facilities that had been affected by the bushfire disaster.
The NSW Firearms Dealers Association kindly offered their services as a reference for people who have been affected by bushfires and are seeking alternate safe storage arrangements at minimal cost. People may contact: firstname.lastname@example.org to identify their closest participating dealer.
The Firearms Registry also wrote to clubs and ranges seeking information on any damage incurred and pledged our assistance to support those facilities back to full or partial safe operation. We are grateful also of the support being provided by peak associations in coordinating equipment and offering assistance to fire-affected ranges and clubs.
Our focus is to work with the community and our network of clubs, ranges, dealers and associations collaboratively to ensure that legal responsibilities are met for both individuals and associations.
As horrific as the 2019 – 2020 bushfire season has been, it has been heartening to see the community outpouring of assistance and support in all its forms.
If you need to notify the Firearms Registry about your firearm safe storage, you must do so within 14 days and have the following options:
- via the online form (Change of Personal Details Request Form);
- email (email@example.com); or
- post (Locked Bag 5102, Parramatta NSW 2124) .
Affected customers can also contact the Firearms Registry Customer Service Line on 1300 362 562 (9:00am – 4:00pm Monday to Friday) or local Police for advice.
Superintendent Anthony Bell
Commander, Firearms Registry