President’s Message: November 2019

Dear Members,

Welcome to what I believe will be my most positive report yet.  We have made many changes over the last 12 months, with this quarter being the busiest so far, and the results are beginning to show.

The new Board meeting process is also showing dividends.  We now meet via teleconference between face-to-face meetings. This has significantly reduced the agendas on every occasion, allowing for a larger focus on “big plan” strategy. For this reason, we can also manage process issues quickly and respond to Branch issues faster.

At our recent Board meeting, significant time was spent finalising plans on two major matters that will place SSAA NSW on the front foot.

The first of these is our planned range at Dubbo.  The finalisation of the draft plan will, if approved, cater for most SSAA disciplines. Firearms Registry has met with us on site and are working with SSAA NSW to ensure we have a compliant, fantastic range. Firearms Registry are to be commended for being very responsive, allowing us to fast-track the development.

The other key focus of the Board is the establishment of SSAA NSW RTO (Registered Training Organisation). The RTO is key to SSAA NSW being a positive influencer for all NSW Law Abiding Firearm Owners (LAFO).  Like our ranges, the RTO provides an avenue to show the decision makers in government that LAFOs are serious about being the best, safest and most well-trained civilian firearms owners on the planet.

This sounds like an overreaching plan, but we know from our research that, to the 96% of people who do not have a firearms license, training, safety and professionalism are extremely important in the normalising and acceptance of our sport.  Two new directors of the RTO have been appointed. Our new RTO directors are volunteers, as are the current directors, and these directors have the specific skill sets and the time to finalise the development of the RTO. Our RTO will provide a new source of revenue, with much interest already shown.

The constitution review is continuing and has already had considerable input from Branches, the Board, the 2019 AGM and the constitutional roundtable held earlier this year. Further consultation will occur, after which collation and drafting will occur, along with additional advice. Our expectation is to present the proposed constitution to the 2020 AGM, with the additional review process included. This is a mammoth task and we sincerely thank everyone who has contributed to date.

Jai and I had a productive visit to Registry at the end of July with many issues progressed.  There is more work to be done and we will continue to advocate strongly on your behalf. Some of the matters raised included:

  1. Communication.
  2. Consultative committee.
  3. Safe storage.
  4. Range Inspections.
  5. Range approvals.
  6. 5 Stand Danger area template.
  7. Suppressor approval.
  8. Appearance laws.
  9. Match rule approval.
  10. License and permits – Mental & Physical health matters.
  11. P650 where an answer is yes.
  12. Person “not to shoot” advise procedure.
  13. Club reporting – Mandatory attendance.
  14. Safe shooting instructors.
  15. Museum regulation.
  16. Range user guide.

SSAA NSW has considered the introduction of a SSAA NSW range review function which would help Branches and range managers prepare for Firearms Registry inspections and helping to ensure a consistent approach.  Registry were delighted with the concept and believe that there is a strong need for this role. They have agreed to work with SSAA NSW for better outcomes all round.

Safe storage has been contentious recently, with some police commands enforcing “line of sight storage”.  This means firearms safes in sheds elsewhere on a property, or on a property that is not permanently occupied, were considered unacceptable.  This created a conversation around consistent transport models for firearms (as they cannot be left on site) and further conversation around cameras and security systems for remote storage.  These questions will be answered in time for our next meeting.

Range approvals and related issues were clarified for both parties.  This communication model works well to manage misinterpretations that occasionally sneak in.

Long Range Precision and the conduct of matches in NSW raised the questions around appearance laws.  NSW is the most restrictive state with regard to appearance, as opposed to safety, and the conduct of national matches in NSW poses several problems which were outlined.

We recently submitted a legal brief on interpretation of the National Firearms Agreement around match rules for review by the Registry legal team.  It is our contention that international affiliation is not mandatory to develop and conduct a match in NSW, so long as safety considerations are addressed in the usual way.

Delays in registry for any non-typical application were discussed, and registry have promoted a staff member that has exceptional skill in registries processes.  They have also assured SSAA NSW that more staff are being trained, increasing capability. Several people who have previously come to me for support in these delays have reported that the responses have improved, and our members are getting results.

Members have asked for clarification around what constitutes ammunition, especially regarding inspections and carriage of firearms.  An empty case is not ammunition, so cases on the bench being prepped for reloading is acceptable. A single air rifle pellet, however, can be discharged and is therefore considered ammunition.  Any assembled rounds or cartridges, including slugs or air rifle pellets that are unsecured would not pass a safe storage inspection.  Inspections have been ramped up, so do yourself a favour and check your storage – even get a mate to do it. Sometimes new eyes find things that we are blind to.  If in doubt, lock it up.

We asked for notification of “person not to shoot” reports where that person is reinstated.  A new system is being considered where information is shared so that Range Officers can be confident of who can and cannot shoot at a range in the future.

By now, any who were interested will know that the changes to the museum collections have been reversed.  SSAA NSW spoke on behalf of collectors and museums, as did many shooting organisations.  We are satisfied with the positive result of this issue.

Some members regularly travel with firearms in their vehicle and we know that the requirements for safe transport includes the word “reasonable”.  This means that if you are questioned around transporting your firearm, the police can be interpretative.  The best solution is to make every effort to ensure best practice. One feature you may be interested in is installing a tracker on your vehicle in case it is stolen.

We have been running an austerity program for some time now and I can report that we have managed to decrease our operational costs significantly and we will report those outcomes to the AGM. The soon to be realised result means more money for member benefits in the future.  Jai and Luke have done an excellent job in managing this cost cutting, without impacting current member services.

On the National front there has been a trial reviewing why members have left SSAA.  This review involved email, SMS and phone contact.  In many cases the members contacted re-joined with SSAA.  SSAA NSW is continuing this service to support members and solve any misconceptions.

National is also planning to co-host an international sustainable use conference with Queensland University. We have done this before and the book that was generated from the last conference is required reading in the appropriate university courses around wildlife management.

SSAA NSW relationships, both external and internal, are very positive and some more good news is coming soon in this space.  We have a program to communicate with all factions that engage in or influence our sport.  The outcome is LAFOs are becoming more and more cohesive while influencers are aware of our safety and training, which benefits us all.

Lance Miller is the President of SSAA NSW.