Ron Sterry provided first aid to his neighbour, only to end up losing his gun licence for simply trying to ensure his own safety.

The decision has caused the Northern Territory’s Chief Judge to write to the territory’s Police Minister to get the law changed.

Helping a neighbour at a time of need

IN APRIL 2021, Ron Sterry went to the aid of his Alice Springs neighbour who had been stabbed.

It was dark, the assailant was on the loose, and the police weren’t around. 

So Ron grabbed his Eddystone rifle, some ammo and a bayonet before going to his neighbour’s screams to see what he could do.  He provided first aid to her, and the good news is that she survived the incident.

However, when the police turned up, they were less interested in the criminal than they were in Ron. 

After seizing his guns, ammo, bayonet and suspending his firearms licence, Northern Territory Police hit Ron with five charges.

With the support of the National Shooting Council and a top barrister (attorney), Ron beat all but one charge.

The one charge that stuck was for carrying the bayonet in public, but no conviction was recorded, and the court ordered that both the items and Ron’s licence be returned to him.

He won. Or so everyone had thought

The police raid

Early last year, the Northern Territory Police decided to revoke Ron’s licence, so turned up to his house to serve the paperwork.

Ron was interstate at the time, so the police saw something in a window that prompted them to get a search warrant.

They then entered the house and started drilling into Ron’s safe, before being stopped by the barrister who had earlier helped him.

They took a range of substances and what they described as ‘replica’ guns. Ron was in trouble.

However, the guns were nothing more than Nerf guns, and the substances included vinegar, chilli oil – and a range of items found in ordinary chemistry kits (as Ron has an interest in chemistry and is now undertaking a university degree in chemistry).

Ron cops licence cancellation

The NT Police returned Ron’s items but a few weeks later, cancelled his licence anyway.

Why? Because Ron had earlier been found guilty of a weapons charge – even though no conviction had been recorded and the court specifically had his bayonet and licence returned to him.

NT’s whacky ruling

The matter was once again fought in the NT’s legal system before the territory’s Chief Judge, Elizabeth Morris. Except this time, Ron lost.

The reason he lost is because the law had recently been changed by replacing a comma with a semi-colon in a provision of the NT’s Firearms Act that relates to the reasons that disqualify someone from holding a licence.

That change meant Ron was now stuck.

However Chief Judge Morris did note how unfair this was on Ron, and will be writing to the territory’s police minister to recommend the law be changed to avoid the differing interpretations from the change, and the “absurd results” that it makes.

When a judge writes to a minister, then it’s not something he or she can ignore. They have to do something.

However for now, Ron remains the victim of firearm laws that even the NT’s senior judge reckons is unfair.

You can see a recent interview with Ron about this decision by clicking the image below.

If you ever wanted to see gun laws target the good people, then here’s a prime example.

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