The Western Australian Labor Government is planning to restrict how many guns a licensed firearm holder can own.
Under the proposed laws, firearm club and competition members would be restricted to 10 guns, while recreational shooters would be allowed five. Primary producers (farmers) would also be limited to 10 firearms.
The new legislation will be introduced to Parliament early next year after public consultation. The Labor state government holds a commanding majority in both the Upper House (21 out of 36 seats), and Lower House (53 out of 59 seats).
Premier Cook said this would be the biggest overhaul of firearm laws in the state’s history.
He claimed the reforms would make WA safer and modernise how police record, monitor, and enforce firearm laws.
“WA is the last jurisdiction to rewrite its firearm legislation since the Port Arthur massacre,” Mr. Cook said.
“Unfortunately, there have been a number of high-profile gun incidents during recent years. These examples of the unlawful use of firearms highlight the need for this important reform.
“The reforms strike a balance between legitimate, responsible gun ownership and enhanced public safety.”
What Are the changes?Eight new licence types have been created for primary producers, individuals, trades, businesses, clubs, ranges, collectors, and the government.
To facilitate the change, the government will fund a voluntary firearm buyback scheme early next year to “limit the financial impact to current licence holders”.
The new licences will be digital, requiring gun owners to apply via an online portal with an upgraded IT system.
Competitive shooters planning to represent WA nationally or internationally will need to apply to the regulator for extra guns.
“It’s obvious the WA government are absolutely terrified of guns—the question is why? What are they planning which has them so scared people might use guns to object to it?” they wrote on Facebook.
“WA is a gigantic, empty state—despite being about 2.6 million square km in area, 80 percent of the entire population lives in the greater Perth region and nearly everyone else is in the southeast corner beyond that. You’d think a state with that much empty land ... would be a hunter or sporting shooter’s paradise.
“Every licensed gun owner in Australia has undergone a police background check and been found to be one of the most upstanding, fit, and proper people in their state.”
However, Police Minister Paul Papalia cited “public safety” as a reason for drafting the new legislation.
“If there are fewer firearms in the community, there are fewer opportunities for them to be used illegally,” Mr. Papalia said.
“In addition to the proposed legislative changes, we have already stripped notorious crime figures and serious domestic violence offenders of their firearms and removed 280 unnecessarily high-powered guns from the community.”
Commenting on firearm numbers, Mr. Papalia said WA firearm numbers have increased 65 percent since 2009 to more than 360,000.
“New firearm limits will only impact around five percent of individual licence holders but the changes will remove over 10,000 firearms from the community,” Mr. Papalia said.
The government said in the last five years, one gun on average has been stolen in WA every day.
“More onerous controls on storage will dramatically reduce the likelihood of thefts,” the government claimed.
The Firearms Bill Consultation Paper will be released for public review and comment on Oct. 17. The public have until Nov. 14 to provide feedback via the WA Police website.
How Do You Buy A Gun in WA?All firearms must be registered and individuals possessing guns must have a licence. A licence cannot be approved if it is “not desirable in the interests of public safety” or the “person is not a fit and proper person to hold the approval, permit, or licence.”
Those applying for their first-ever licence have to complete a Firearms Awareness test with an approved firearm dealer or club. The person must also have a genuine reason and need to possess the firearm and provide proof to support this need.
A new licence cannot be issued until a 28-day cooling-off period from the date of application.
Firearms have to be stored securely and comply with Schedule Four of the Firearm Regulations 1974.
Many types of firearms are restricted or prohibited and allowed under certain conditions.