Recommendations: Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020

SSAA NSW has contacted members regularly over the past 12 months regarding our advocacy campaign and ePetition, opposing the negative consequences of the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020.

It is with pride that we announce we have been heard – our advocacy has achieved an important first step for all legal firearms owners. The recently published report from the NSW Parliament’s Upper House Inquiry, chaired by the Hon. Robert Borsak MLC, has made recommendations to the NSW Parliament. These recommendations reflect what was requested by SSAA NSW at our appearance in December 2020 at the Legislative Council Upper House Inquiry and within the ePetition launched in February.

The following recommendations are an excellent foundation in ensuring that legal firearms owners are protected. As a result of our successful ePetition, the ePetition will be presented to Parliament and discussed. After this process has concluded, the Bill will proceed to parliamentary debate, with amendments to be considered and finally voted on.

In anticipation, SSAA NSW has already met with numerous MPs from various sides of the political spectrum to discuss our concerns with the Bill. There are many more scheduled meetings with MPs in the coming weeks and all are interested in hearing our position on the matter.

Report Recommendations

The recently published report from the Upper House Inquiry made the following recommendations:

Recommendation 1:
That the Legislative Council:

  • proceed to debate the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020, but not pass the bill in its current form; and
  • only pass the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020 if substantially amended during the Committee of the Whole stage as detailed in recommendations 2 to 9.

Recommendation 2:
That the Legislative Council amend sections 51J and 25E of the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020 during the Committee of the Whole stage to incorporate a similar defence for licensed firearms owners to that present in sections 37(3)(a) and 37(4)(a) in the South Australian Firearms Act 2015.

Recommendation 3:
That the Legislative Council amend sections 51J and 25E of the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020 during the Committee of the Whole stage to:

  • amend the Firearms Act 1996 to define what minor repairs, routine maintenance and adjustments firearm licence holders and firearm permit holders are authorised to undertake to their registered firearms; and
  • amend the Weapons Prohibition Act 1998 to define what minor repairs, routine maintenance and adjustments prohibited weapons licence holders and prohibited weapon permit holders are authorised to undertake to their registered prohibited weapons.

Recommendation 4:
That the Legislative Council amend the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020 during the Committee of the Whole stage to create a discrete negligence-based offence with an appropriate and proportionate lower maximum penalty, consistent with the gradation of other criminal offences under New South Wales legislation.

Recommendation 5:
That the Legislative Council amend sections 51J and 25E of the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020 during the Committee of the Whole stage to:

  • tailor the unauthorised manufacture offences to cover the broad spectrum of offending covered by the proposed provisions; and
  • ensure that the penalty thresholds for these offences are proportionate with other similar offences in New South Wales legislation.

Recommendation 6:
That the Legislative Council amend sections 51K and 25F of the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020 during the Committee of the Whole stage to provide that police are required to seek a court order when requiring the owner of a device to supply the password of any computer, phone or storage device seized by police suspected of containing evidence.

Recommendation 7:
That the Legislative Council amend sections 51K and 25F of the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020 during the Committee of the Whole stage to provide that owners may apply for the return of their seized property and goods in accordance with all of Part 17 of the Law Enforcement Powers and Responsibilities Act 2002.

Recommendation 8:
That the Legislative Council amend section 74A(1) of the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020 during the Committee of the Whole stage to provide that police are required to have ‘reasonable suspicion’ prior to searching any other persons on the premises, vehicle, vessel or aircraft of a person subject to an Firearms Prohibition Order.

Recommendation 9:
That the Legislative Council amend the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020 during the Committee of the Whole stage to provide that police search powers for persons subject to a Firearms Prohibition Order be differentiated so that appropriate protections are provided to persons aged under 18 years.

Stronger Together

If you have already taken the time to sign the petition, thank you. If you are yet to sign our ePetition, you can do so here. We have over 28,000 signatures, making it the largest ePetition in NSW Parliament’s history.

In the face of legislation with negative consequences and the potential widespread impact on the entire shooting community, our industry has come together as one to sign the petition and protect our sport and culture. We also take this opportunity to thank all stakeholders who have worked collaboratively with us to achieve this result.

Your support has ensured that the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Amendment (Criminal Use) Bill 2020 will be debated with amendments being considered.

Emma Taviani is the Marketing and Communications Manager for SSAA NSW.