“You’d have to think there’s a lot of those 349,000 firearms out there just sitting around not being used, waiting to be stolen…”
– Paul Papalia, Minister for Police – WA
WA’s POLICE MINISTER, Paul Papalia, has announced a complete rewrite of the WA Firearms Act, which he says is out of date and ‘too liberal’.
He says there are too many guns held by licensed shooters, and it is too easy for criminals to get licences to have guns.
On 22 March, The West Australian newspaper ran a front-page story about how many guns are in the community, almost ‘one gun owner in every street
P1, The West Australian – 22 March 2022
Gun owners are furoius that their locations were revealed
The article says “shocking” maps provided to the paper by the registry reveals “the true scale of gun ownership in suburban Perth”, and that the maps “demonstrate how firearms are seemingly located in every suburb and on every street across the city”.
It quotes Papalia as saying “You’d have to think there’s a lot of those 349,000 firearms out there just sitting around not being used, waiting to be stolen…” and how we was “quite taken aback” by the scale of gun ownership in Perth.
This page 4 article was clearly orchestrated with the Minister
This comes from the same minister who recently and falsely claimed that gel blasters can be converted to real working firearms. Readers may recall our recent story on that, which you can see by** clicking here**.
“There’s a bullet hole at my house’’
Shooters who contacted the NSC have raised real concern about the accuracy of location of the map showing where they store their guns. There are now multiple complaints about the breach of privacy that have been lodged with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. As one shooter said, “there’s a bullet hole at my house”.
Another complaint we received was:
“I knocked on four doors on my block and found four licensed firearms owners.
The map is far more accurate than the police claim.”
Imagine the uproar there would be if the same map was developed to reveal the residential locations of police officers, politicians or journalists with such precision.
It was unnecessary and petty for the paper to do what they did, and for the registry to help them.
Who you can complain to
We encourage any shooter in WA who is concerned about the breach of their privacy to contact the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s office, by clicking here. Please note their process requires you to have already raised your concern with WA Police.
Shooters in WA might also want to consider complaining to their local MP. Click here to find who your local MP is.
Our FOI response
In the meantime, we immediately put a Freedom of Information request to WA Police for a copy of all the documents (including electronic files) that they provided to the paper. That way, we’ll get to see whether the police provided actual locations, and who put the ‘bullet holes’ in the front page map.
The Government has not released any information that details the changes they are considering. However, we’ve come across a questionnaire that they are now circulating to clubs, which gives some clues on what they might be:
These are just three. From what we saw in the media, we’re concerned that the government will push for:
- restrictions on the number and type of cat A/B firearms a shooter can hold;
- similar restrictions on ammo;
- reduced rights of appeal, especially where licences may be suspended or cancelled;
- tougher storage and club requirements; and
- higher licensing and registration costs.
The next day (23 March), the paper ran this front page story.
The first paragraph started by saying “Domestic abusers, long-time criminals and the mentally unwell” have firearm licences.
Yet s11 of the WA Firearms Act 1973 disqualifies people convicted of offences involving violence or firearms or where the persion is not “fit and proper” or where it is not in “the interests of public safety” from holding licences.
The editorial says there is “a great deal of potentially lethal weapons from Geraldton down to Perth and across to Esperance”, and how the number of gun licences “soared” over the last 13 years.
It also says West Australians will “want to see the McGowan Government tighten the rules to make sure that the community is as safe as possible…” and that “it’s hard to believe that these powers [to take guns from offenders] do not exist already”.
This is where the paper clearly has not done it’s own research.
The paper uses the example of the case of a person who had 121 criminal convictions, including beating his daughter with a broomstick which WA Police lost in the State Administrative Tribunal. The paper did not explain why the police lost their case or why they did not appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
P8 & 9, The West Australian – 23 March 2022
In other words, the police chose not to challenge the decision, which we assume might point to a defect in the way they did their work.
If the SAT or Supreme Court felt WA’s gun laws were deficient, they would have said something – but they haven’t.
Again, the NSC immediately put a Freedom of Information request to WA Police for a copy of all the documents (including electronic files) that they provided to the paper for these latter documents.
We’re particularly interested in seeing what, if anything, the police said about the quality of their evidence and any advice they received on whether to appeal.
The problem in WA isn’t with the laws. It’s with the competency of the police to make proper decisions and support their cases with their lawyers.
We have run several cases at the WA SAT and won every one of them. The reason for this is that WA police have been quick to pass judgement without having a basis.
We currently have two cases in WA at the SAT that involve restrictions on calibres, where it is clear that the knowledge of WA Police’s own experts is dated and limited. In one case, our expert says of WA Police’s experts:
“their knowledge about the modern sport of Long Range/Extreme Range (LR/ER) hunting and shooting is very poor insofar as it relates to equipment, ballistics, projectile construction etc”
“They misrepresent some things in documents they reference (e.g. the Code of Practice for the Capture and Marketing of Feral Animals in western Australia)”
That’s why they keep losing cases.
- We have put in two FOI requests to find out exactly what the WA Police gave the media;
- We’re making as many shooters in WA as possible aware of what their government is up through social and traditional media and get them to lobby their local member;
- With a federal election due in May, we’ll drag Labor’s federal candidates into this to get them to put pressure on their party colleagues to stop these attacks;
- We’ll do a targetted letterbox drop in the minister’s own electorate to make sure his voters know how damaging his laws will be to the state;
- We have already helped shooters take complaints to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, and are about to encourage more to do the same;
- We’ve complainted to the WA Crime and Corruption Commission and Premier;
- We’ve appointed a WA NSC State Rep and Coordinator
More will need to be done, but this is what is already underway.
While gun laws are a state issue, the federal government also has some buy-in gun laws, as it controls firearms at the border and coordinates the National Firearms Agreement.
With the federal election likely to be held in May, we’ll be putting pressure on Labor candidates to convince their state counterparts to dump Papalia’s plans.
At the very least, his office needs to speak with ours, and go through the issues of concern. However until then, we’re taking a blanket approach to have the changes stopped.
We’re going to raise this issue with as many shooters in WA. We’ll be ramping this up through social and traditional media.
You’ll see the start of this happen next week, following another major announcement that we have in store for you that is going to help our fight in WA.
That’s why we’re asking shooters to support our campaign through supporting our work program … and join the NSC to make us stronger!