Why consultation by our police forces remains an issue

You may have heard Tasmania Police have withdrawn their reclassification guidelines.

While that is good news, this episode reaffirms the problem that our police forces do a pretty bad job when it comes to consultation.

The Tasmania Police circulated guidelines for comment to a group of dealers which proposed that certain ‘features’ should be used to consider reclassification of firearms to more restricted categories.

We recently published this post which we hope made the point that the guidelines would have required every rifle used in Olympic, Commonwealth and other top level competitions to be reviewed for higher categories, even if those re-classifications never went ahead.  The post was shared over 140 times, reaching over 40,000 people.

One issue down, many more to go

The Tasmania Police have withdrawn the guidelines. This was no doubt influenced by the number of submissions it received on the matter – thanks to you.

While that is welcome news, the problem only came about from Tasmania Police’s lack of knowledge about civilian firearm use.  While we do not expect our police forces will be experts in every field of firearms, we do believe that better consultation processes before guidelines like these are produced, would have helped them greatly. It would have avoided a lot of the heat which Tasmania’s Minister for Police, Rene Hidding, felt (and to his credit took the time to respond to those who raised it with him), and heat the police themselves could have done without.

This problem isn’t just with Tasmania.  For many years the Victorian (now) Licensing & Regulation Division had a patchy relationship with the shooting industry which resulted in some ‘close calls’ of a similar nature.  Last year it released guidelines on the transportation of firearms which they amended after we drummed up a campaign against them (click here to see our post) and another senior office (not with LRD) started his own political campaigns with the Herald Sun to change our storage laws, and the classification of the Adler A-110.

Policy discussions need to be opened up

While we appreciate the Victoria Police engages with our industry through the Firearm Users Group, we would respectfully suggest that those discussions focus on implementation issues rather than firearms policy – which is where all of the above issues are.

Several years ago the CFCV was able to have the Firearms Consultative Committee established to help create a more open and transparent forum where industry’s views could be heard by the Department of Justice and Regulation, as a counterweight to the then one-sided views being provided by Victoria Police.

The FCC helped improve the quality of DOJR’s understanding of issues which in turn has led to better outcomes for all concerned. However there have been lapses along the way and the transportation / reclassification issues have demonstrated that the belief by some that consultation is simply an inconvenience, is still bubbling away beneath the surface.

Consultation needs to be mandated

We would encourage our policy advisers and law makers to think seriously about whether they want good laws or bad laws. You can’t get good laws with bad information.

In Victoria, we need our FCC to have a statutory role.  There is obviously a need for something similar in Tasmania and we suspect in other states.

This issue is not unique to us. Check out this recent article published by Ammoland in relation to a decision by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to ban a type of magazine – without consultation.

  1. This is a great outcome, but like the article says it’s a crying shame it has to come to this boiling point. Commonsense should be part and parcel with government legislation on anything, not knee-jerk reactions by faceless bureaucrats. It has been shown time and time again that the law-abiding firearms community are exactly that, law-abiding. We need to be shown respect as we’ve proven we deserve it. Why does it have to be that we’re forced to write letters of complaint to actually get these outdated, backward opinions changed?

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