The Police Ministers Council meets on 13 December in Perth. Before them is the most important aspect of our gun laws – the conditions under which people can legally obtain guns by way of obtaining a Shooters Licence. This crucial aspect of Australian gun laws which sets out the training and testing regime for shooters has been held over from the original 1996 post-Port Arthur gun law agreement.
GCA spokesperson Randy Marshall said “The Federal Government has done little to ensure that the States and Territories develop a proper training and testing regime which will make would-be gun owners fit and proper people to legally own guns”. “It’s clear now that the days of respect for John Howard’s contribution to forceful gun laws have gone”.
After the 1996 Port Arthur gun massacre the gun law reform process started with the Howard Federal government playing the leading role. Mr Marshall said, “That leadership role is needed more than ever, with the Shooters Licence being the lynch-pin of any system of gun laws”. “Sadly, that has not happened”. “Howard has thrown in the towel on gun laws”.
The Shooters Licence should set out strict demands on credentialisation, along with a thorough training and rigorous testing program. A minimum of 20 hours training is required and this should be followed by at least two hours of written tests conducted at a TAFE College.
Mr Marshall said, “The Shooters Licence program is the one and only occasion when the police can make demands on prospective gun owners knowledge of the danger their weapons constitute, respect for the public, discipline in gun usage and a thorough knowledge of the gun laws”. “The Federal government’s proposition is almost useless, it is no more than a child-like list of be-good statements which are supposed to guide the eight state & territory jurisdictions in developing their Shooters Licence programs”.
“The result is a foregone conclusion” said Mr Marshall.. “Shooters will be asked to do no more than they were a decade ago – which makes the program completely out of date”. “For the most part this will mean one to two hours training followed by a 15 minute multiple choice test”. “In some jurisdictions this is in the hands of gun lobby people, who, in our experience are only too happy to ensure that as many people as possible become armed”.