Vic Police Minister oversees shotgun ban

Victoria’s Police Minister has announced a ban on a type of shotgun – because of his fear of ‘opportunistic misuse‘. It’s a dangerous new policy approach that could be applied to any other gun.

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Victoria’s shock move on shotguns

VICTORIA’S ALLAN GOVERNMENT is introducing new legislation that will effectively ban the use of bolt-action shotguns with a magazine capacity of greater than five shots – putting alongside lever-action shotguns.

While it is not a ban in the usual sense, the new law will only allow licence holders to use bolt-action shotguns with a magazine capacity of greater than five shots “for the purposes of participating in a Chief Commissioner approved event”.

Whether an “event” includes hunting, is not clear. However the way the word ‘event’ is used the Firearms Act 1996 makes it highly unlikely that it will. 

This would mean that the use of those shotguns will be limited to only those target shooting events that use these firearms – and that Victoria Police approves of.  This is the same approach now being used in Western Australia.

So yes, the gun isn’t being “banned” in the sense that it is being reclassified to category D like some lever-action shotguns are, but the limitation amounts to the same thing.

Plus, make a mental note that we are talking about a bolt-action gun, not a lever-action gun.

Allan’s first move on guns

Vic Premier, Jacinta Allan MP

Premier Jacinta Allan

The proposed shotgun ban came out of the woodwork without any notice – and barely six weeks into the reign of new Victorian Premier, Jacinta Allan.

It doesn’t follow any reported misuse of the guns, or public debate.

… suffice to say, we’re not impressed.

First, the good news

The bill, the Justice Legislation Amendment (Police and Other Matters) Bill 2023, makes changes to a few other pieces of legislation, but we’re obviously only going to focus on those that affect shooters.

There is some good news in the changes though. 

They include some minor tidy ups of language in the Firearms Act 1996, and relieving dealers of having to record personal details of those who wish to hand unwanted guns in anonymously.

However the rest is bad news.

It’s a move on a particular type of shotgun. So what?

In the lead up to writing this article, one of our followers asked how many of these shotguns were being used, and they suspected ‘not many‘.

That is most likely true.  However as many shooters will tell you, this problem isn’t about the gun being singled out, but the rationale for the change.

That’s because it is another installment in a long line of gun bans and other restrictions on shooters for “public safety”.   

Remember the closure of gun shops during COVID?  Recall the banning of lever-action shotguns? Remember ‘reclassification’?

Now they’re moving on bolt-actions.

The “opportunistic misuse” test

In the explanatory memorandum accompanying the bill, the Police Minister, Anthony Carbines, said:

“The Bill will also place a special condition on the holder of a category A or A&B long arms firearms licence who has obtained the licence for the reason of hunting or sport or target shooting.   The special condition will state that a licensee cannot carry, possess or use a detachable magazine greater than five shots in combination with a bolt action shotgun, unless it is for the purpose of participating in a Chief Commissioner approved event.  This is a proactive community safety reform to limit the ability of opportunistic misuse of bolt action shotguns which can be paired with large capacity detachable magazines.”

Ok. First of all, the change is being described as a ‘proactive community safety reform’

He has not said why it has anything to do with safety – other than to say it will limit the “opportunistic misuse” of the shotgun. 

The government’s explanation

Also of interest is that the Government’s media release.  It fails to give any more background other than what you have seen here.

Usually media releases will give more information to explain why moves like this are made.  However it has not done so in this instance. 

The media release that mentions the bill also addresses other matters and is titled “Targeting Dangerous Drivers To Improve Community Safety”. 

This tells you that the need for ‘proactive community safety reform’ has no data or evidence behind it.  It’s just a media headline.

No bolt-action is safe

‘Opportunistic misuse’ is an incredibly very low threshold to apply.  As one follower said to us, the same argument could be applied to his .17 MHR.  

The concept of banning something on a fear of  opportunistic misuse also has no basis in Victorian legislation, the National Firearms Agreement, or the policy manuals used by public servants. It’s also not a policy Labor took to the last election.

No, this isn’t a ‘proactive community safety reform’

It’s a “pro-active gun ban reform” that continues to reduce firearms in the community, regardless of risk.

Forget the gun, think about the precedent

Basing policy this way sets a bad precedent for how the Allan Government will regulate firearms in Victoria going forward.

If you use handguns, are you confident the policy of ‘opportunistic misuse’ won’t be extended to what you do?

What if you’ve got bolt-action hunting rifles?

To us, the fact this ‘only‘ affects a reasonably small number of shotguns in circulation, is not the issue.

It’s the explanation and lack of a properly constructed and defensible policy basis that is. 

What the shooting community needs is a policy basis that recognises and looks after shooters as the primary audience.

It needs to have a basis and be consistent in the way it applies across the industry. 

Instead we have a policy model, that puts the interests of shooters well down the batting order.

At the top of that batting order is unfounded ‘fear’.  Yet we are the ones paying to keep the firearms registry going through licence and registration fees.

It’s the wrong way around.

Minister Carbines needs to change where he gets his advice from

The ban is a surprising move for Carbines.  He has been quiet on the topic of firearms legislation and tended to avoid any controversy ever since becoming minister in June 2022.

Police Minister, Anthony Carbines, MLA oversees shotgun ban

Minister Anthony Carbines

Unfortunately – and whether due to bad advice or not – that’s now changed.

Our advice to Minister Carbines is to question where he is getting his advice from

He needs to engage with shooters a lot earlier than dumping a bill into Parliament, and take shooters into his ‘inner circle’.

He needs to respect the shooting community and engage it in a more meaningful and constructive way than governments have in the past.   Minister Carbines should start by showing good faith by  rescinding the proposed shotgun ban now.

The minister should know how good policy is made – that’s his job… 

“Shooters were consulted”

WE’RE anticipating government MPs will tell parliament that shooting organisations, were consulted on the shotgun ban through the Firearms Consultative Committee.

Unfortunately, the government’s approach to using the FCC has been along the lines “This is what we’re introducing into parliament tomorrow, so consider yourself consulted, rather than engage in actual consultation.   

This is happened  when the government recently decided to increase the gun safe spec requirements for Victorian shooters. 

At the same time, shooters’ representatives on the committee are bound to confidentiality agreements, which is why they won’t speak up about it

You might ask “why don’t those representatives push back on this”, especially when bad policy and bad process comes up?

That’s a good question. Unfortunately it’s a balance between making a stand – and being kicked off the committee and having no opportunity for input at all – and missing out on the free sandwiches they get.

… but maybe it’s time for those organisations – and their members – to reappraise whether they are comfortable with this.

The sneaky letter to PR

We recently received a letter from Carbines’ Chief of Staff that invited Politics Reloaded to engage with the Minister on policy after we wrote to him in early September.

The problem is, we received the letter the day before the new shotgun legislation was tabled in Parliament.  Guess what?  His letter made no mention of that, and the general nature of the letter suggest to us that the minister has no intention to engage with anyone on policy.

The same letter also said “The [Victorian Firearms Consultative Committee] provides an important forum for the legitimate interests of licenced firearms owners and ensures their views and concerns are brought to the Government’s attention”.

Sorry Minister – that’s not correct.  They get told what’s about to happen to them: that’s not consultation.

We’re happy to engage with the government on policy, but it MUST be done in good faith.

‘Guns and sport’ must prevail

ONE THING we are big on at Politics Reloaded is the way governments relate to the shooting community.

It’s almost entirely negative.

It’s about “guns and crime” with sport being an after thought. 

Instead the the narrative needs to be about “guns and sport” with crime still able to be addressed. 

After all, there are 250,000 or so shooters in Victoria whose interests  have not been mentioned.  

That’s why what’s happening in WA under Police Minister, Paul Papalia, is so bad.  He takes the default position that a theoretical basis for fighting crime trumps the legitimate needs of everyone else.   

This means there is no possibility of reaching a balanced, properly based policy position on guns.  That’s pathological

The current approach is upside down

The current approach that most Australian governments use guarantees bad policy outcomes.

You can see that in Minister Carbine’s parliamentary speech, that he goes straight to ‘opportunistic misuse’ and fails to talk about who uses bolt-action shotguns and whyA better minister would have done that.

The Allan Government may not see this as a big deal – but we do. 

Bad policy affects not only the guns concerned, but everyone up and down the supply chain. Plus it adds to uncertainty about what the future holds for other firearms – especially bolt-actions with magazines

Change the narrative, minister

Changing the narrative (to ‘guns and sport’) needs to be Minister Carbine’s and Premier Allan’s, first priority.  

If they did this, they would be able to develop a better policy basis that can support & promote the lawful use of firearms and deal with criminal misuse at the same time.   

The right approach would help build the shooting sector, unlock the value it provides to the state.   There would be no downside for the community

‘Fear’ would have no place in the policy.

What happens now?

Before a bill becomes law, it needs to go through several stages in the lower house (Legislative Assembly).  This includes the debate.

It then goes through the same process in the upper house (Legislative Council).  

If the bill passes with the shotgun ban, it may not come into effect until first half of next year.  

Help us get rid of this flimsy policy approach

Yep, it’s time to hit the emails again.

While this bill is still in it’s early stages, we suggest you send an email to Minister Carbines.  It needs to explain that you do not support the shotgun ban. It needs to say you want to see a change in the way governments relate to shooters.

You can create an email by ** clicking here ** 

If the link doesn’t work for you, you can email Minister Carbines yourself through phone, email or visiting his office. Click here for those details. Make sure you mention this article from Politics Reloaded when you do.

Now’s the time back real action for shooters

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