NSC wins key reclassification fight
28 October 2020|Appearance laws, Reclassification, Western Australia Police
THE NSC has had a win on reclassification that could pave the way for more legal actions in several states - in what could become the legal ‘house of cards’ for regulators who reclassify firearms without substantiation.
In this article:
- The NSC wins a key battle against the reclassification of the Ruger PC Charger in WA.
- A number of other firearms in the same reclassification remain reclassified / prohibited, but the NSC is keen to find more shooters who are willing to help the NSC expand the fight to those firearms.
- The NSC is keen to take on as many cases as it can nationally, in particular, SA, NSW and the ACT.
- Joining the NSC is the best way to help us do this
The original decision
On 5 June this year, WA Police issued a declaration prohibiting (or recategorising) the Ruger PC Charger in 9mm as well as several other firearms.
You can download the declaration by clicking here .
It also declared the Ruger PC Charger to be ‘not licensable’ due to a public interest section of the WA Firearms Act 1973 , placing a second hurdle in the way of anyone looking to have it registered in WA.
Following the declaration, the NSC filed appeals in the WA State Administrative Tribunal for two shooters who were both trying to get approval to licence (or register) the Ruger.
This led to a series of ‘directions hearings’ where the NSC’s legal team identified various legal deficiencies opening the way for the reclassification laws in WA to be tested.
The WA Police did not admit to any shortcomings and fought our actions every step of the way.
They relied on a previous case that our legal team rejected, arguing that the State Administrative Tribunal has no jurisdiction on the matter.
Police change their mind
In October, WA Police updated the prohibition with a new notice that changed the status of the Ruger to requiring ‘public safety consideration’ . Click here to see the updated declaration.
This status does not exist so when we queried WA Police, they admitted to removing the prohibition, placing, in the words of our barrister “our clients in a position where they are now not prevented from acquiring the firearm …”
So in simple terms WAPol went from effectively saying “no way, no one can have it under any circumstances” to “we will assess each PTA and application on a case by case basis” .
So we’re going to support both applicants through the process, and start new actions in the SAT if they are unable to get the guns registered.
The legal issues are complex but in the words of NSC’s barrister:
“In my view, our clients have had a win. They have clearly forced the hand of the Commissioner on the Ruger PC.”
One down, several to go
This victory should not be misconstrued as suggesting that it is a win ‘across the board’ of the original decision.
It isn’t - it is only in relation to the Ruger PC Charger.
This is because the NSC was only able to support appeals for two shooters who had purchased the firearm.
We did seek the help of the WA Firearm Traders Association and SSAA WA to identify other potential applicants for the other firearms, but they refused to help. So if you are a WA dealer wondering why you cannot sell any of those guns, then that’s why.
We also put out blogs asking for people to put their hands up for the other firearms WAPol ruled on- but again none were forthcoming, so we could only legally go ahead only in relation to the Ruger.
The guns which remain prohibited
The firearms which remain prohibited are listed below and can be seen in the updated (October) declaration, which you can see by clicking here . You will see they added some Berika shotguns which were not in the original declaration, but were announced to have been prohibited at the time.
What we find particularly interesting is the fact this ‘declaration’ refers to it being a ‘courtesy’ letter, which raises some big questions about whether this is even meant to be a legal instrument. Either way, it is our intention to challenge these prohibitions one by one - but we need shooters in WA who want to purchase them.
The guns which remain prohibited (from the above letter dated 2 October) are:
- C-More M26 Sporting shotgun
- Any rifle fitted with a Precision Rifle Products Bullpup chassis
- Precision DSR-1 rifle
- Desert Tactical Arms / Desert Tech SRS A1 rifle
- Ruger SR22 rifle
- Berika EXT12 Desert Storm shotgun
- Berika TXT 12 Black Ops shotgun
- Berika TXT 12 Navy SEAL shotgun
- Berika BXT 12 Assay shotgun
- Berika TM 1950 shotgun
- Volquartsen Summit Tactical rifle
If we can find shooters in WA willing to put their hands up to test those legal issues on those firearms, we will support them.
All they have to do is contact us by email at [email protected]
Fighting reclassification nationally
This is great news for WA, although we obviously have more work to do if we want to win the fight against reclassification.
The WA Ruger case has similarities with the fight in the Northern Territory in 2019 over the Savage A22R. In that case the applicant sought information through Freedom of Information on test data that NT Police claimed supported the idea that the rifle was a ‘rapid fire’ one that led to their decision to ban the rifle. The FOI got stalled, and the police eventually withdrew their declaration.
It is obvious from these cases – and possibly others that we have not seen – that the police declarations are weak and can be turned over if challenged.
In fact, we do not know of any court case that the police won.
The risk for the police in continuing to recategorise firearms without substantiation is that it becomes, for them, a ‘house of cards’. So, with that, the NSC will challenge every reclassification, when we find suitable applicants.
We are aware that the status of the Ruger PC Charger in SA and NSW seems to be in limbo. These are two states where we are keen to find applicants who want to buy the Ruger now that WAPol have decided to change their position on the gun in WA, making it licensable.
In addition, we understand that despite already being registered and legally owned by shooters in the ACT , the ACT Registry has put all PTA’s for the Ruger PC Charger “on hold” pending the outcome of the WA fight!
Well, our advice for the ACT registry is to check out the 2 October declaration.
Join the fight: support the NSC!
Stopping reclassification is now more important than ever. It is a loophole in the National Firearms Agreement which is only serving to ‘blur the boundaries’ around what is or is not allowed, and is giving bureaucrats who lack qualifications and experience on firearms a platform that they must not be on. It is both contrary to the idea of a system of categories and is of no benefit to anyone.
These fights are only possible with the support of shooters who are sick and tired of bad behaviour by our regulators who are not taking the time or trouble to engage with the industries they regulate - and the need for our governments to hold those regulators to account for what is amateurish conduct.
That’s why the NSC wants to take these matters on and force our policy makers back to the table – with the industry.
Support this fight by becoming a member today. Click here to join the NSC
Or here if you would prefer to donate to the NSC.
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