Firearm Regulation Review: Populous Place Permits

Ronald Reagan once came up with one of the best quotes I’ve ever heard, which was:

“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases:

If it moves, tax it.

If it keeps moving, regulate it.

And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”

As you might know, Victoria’s Firearm Regulations are in the process of being remade, which involves the setting or resetting of fees for the various licences and permits we need to go shooting.

In some ways, this is not unreasonable.  However there are instances where the value of permits is either unclear, or not justified.

We found an obscure one which threatens our own ANZAC and Remembrance Day commemorations.

Popular Place Permits

Under Victorian law, it is an offence to carry a loaded firearm, or use a firearm in a ‘populous place’, unless you have a permit.

Permits are often sought by food producers (to eradicate pigeons), seeding of sporting fields (to get rid of the Corellas), pest control businesses and re-enactment groups who support ANZAC, Remembrance Days and other such commemorations, often involving our RSLs.

Permits are currently free, however the Victorian State Government is proposing to introduce a fee of $333.90 for each permit.

Why this is being proposed

The justification given in the Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) is that permit applications involve a site visit by Victoria Police and preparation of a report before the permit can be issued.  We’re reliably informed that some visits do occur, but aren’t always done.  What they do always do, is require the applicant to provide insurance details, detailed drawings and safety procedures.

The other part of the justification in the RIS for a fee is that the activities under a populous place permit is for the “benefit specifically for the applicant … as opposed to  … broader taxpayers”.

This is surprising, given commemorative events are held by volunteers for us all, as is the seeding of our sporting grounds.

Flawed logic in costs

As noted above, the permit fee is justified on the basis of police resources used to visit sites and write reports.  Apart from the fact these do not always occur, there is nothing in our Firearms Act or regulations which requires them to be done.  In other words, we’re being asked to pay for activities which have no legal basis.

Given that the ‘regulatory burden’ will fall on volunteers and others who are only trying to provide a community service, the prospect of high fees is a serious oversight.

The Yea & District Volunteer Memorial Rifles group is an example. They have advised us the proposed fee will stop them from being able to support commemorative services.

It’s probably the sort of thing Reagan had in mind when framing his famous quote.

Then you’ve got small businesses who need permits to do what they do.  If they need 10 permits a year, then they’ll be up for over $3k.   Given the pressures many small businesses are under to stay afloat, the high fees and the snowballing paperwork they need to provide creates a disincentive to comply with the law.

Our submission

Submissions to the RIS closed today.

While our draft submission (which many of you saw and commented on) did not include this, we have now added it to our submission – with a recommendation that there be no fee.  Other shooting organisations have done the same, so be assured we have this well covered.

Target shooting on private property – a new requirement to give 48 hours notice

Another item we added to our submission relates to target shooting on private property.

Currently, in Victoria, there is a requirement to notify Victoria Police of target shooting on private property that is likely to involve more than 5 persons and lasting more than 3 hours.  The argument put forward for having a notification requirement is that it helps police deal with complaints from neighbours and others.

The proposed regulations would, if adopted, require that notice to be given at least 48 hours before the activity occurs (to better enable the police to respond to complaints) – otherwise it’s a fine of $8,000 or a year in jail.

The advice we have received is that this proposed requirement is not only impractical, but ignores the impact which inclement weather or other changes in circumstances can have.

Putting aside the question of why notification is required at all, we’re arguing that this change makes no sense and is not supported.

We’re suggesting that if the regulator has any concern with how the current arrangements work, it should be referred to the Firearms Consultative Committee.

We’ll keep you posted on what happens with the submissions.

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  1. Instead of spending $300 on a permit to allow me to shoot on my privately owned property, I’d rather spend $30 on poison and just kill everything, native birds included with no regulation.

  2. What is the problem here? “Under Victorian law, it is an offence to carry a loaded firearm, or use a firearm in a ‘populous place’, unless you have a permit.”

    Who in their right mind carries a LOADED FIREARM in a town or populous place? I actually had the word LOADED included in the 1996 draft regulations as the original proposal stated “Under Victorian law, it is an OFFENCE TO CARRY A FIREARM or use a firearm in a ‘populous place’, unless you have a permit.” How then would you get a firearm out of the shop if you purchased one? Pull it along on a bit of string? This then lead to the Police and the Military being given special permission to carry a loaded firearms on their person in the discharge of their duty. The Yea & District Volunteer Memorial Rifles group may carry firearms but are they LOADED? I don’t think so. The Shrine Guards carry .303s but they are not loaded. I carry mine whenever I need to and it is NOT LOADED. So back to my original question, “Who in their right mind carries a LOADED FIREARM in a town or populous place?”

    I put up 19 proposals to the Draft Regulations back in 1996 and had 16 of the 19 accepted into law.

  3. Hi Rick. If you had words put in draft regs, then you will be with government or police. By shutting out the shooting community during the formation of legislation and regulations, you end up with issues like this surfacing. Anyway, to answer your question, reenactment groups fire blanks. As we said in our article and submission, others need to carry loaded firearms mainly for pest control. Otherwise how are they going to remove birds? Call the police?

  4. Yep Neil “call the police” they might have a spare pair of coppers that are not sitting on a roadside with a “safety” camera.

    I believe that if the RSL boys really get behind this the idea will fail. How can they penalise the actual blokes that kept us speaking English.

  5. With bolt action and break open type action firearms it is common practice by many shooters to carry them around open. At least others who are close enough to see should not then worry about risk of accidental discharge. Then if the person with the firearm rested it somewhere forward of the trigger as is often done to steady barrel before a shot and then loaded it, seems to me this could not be described as carrying a loaded firearm.

  6. Hi Neil, I am just ‘Joe Citizen’ who was lying in a hospital bed for many many months and was asked by VicPol to review the Draft Regulations as a member of the shooting community. There were many holes in the draft and I was pleased to plug 16 of them. I had to get Bruce Ruxton on side as well as all the RSL’s would have lost their artillery pieces etc as the draft stated that ALL firearms had to be stored securely in a steel box. I was my suggestion that all firearms over 20mm. for which there is no commercially available ammunition, be an EXEMPT item. That is why the RSL’s etc still have their 25pdr and other artillery pieces still on show. I also had the AVO side changed and the authority for Police to carry a weapon when on duty if they had a AVO out against them as many do.

    You are correct in the blank carrying by reenactment groups, but blanks to live ammunition is a different situation. I would consider loaded to mean live ammunition, not blanks at a display where the correct permits to carry are in use. regards Rick.

  7. Bruce Ruxton! My god – the memories!

    Thanks for this Rick. Glad to hear it.

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