SSAA (WA) COVID 19 Statement - April 2020
April 05, 2020
The SSAA WA continues to be at the forefront with our commitment to playing our part in stopping the spread of COVID-19 and protecting our members and the wider community.
All SSAA WA clubs are to be highly commended for their recent proactive approach in suspending their club operations and competitions from the 23rd March through to the 31st of May 2020 in line with all the major sporting codes across Australia.
Since the beginning of this crisis, and in the space of less than one month, the WA Government have issued twenty-eight orders and directives under the powers of the Emergency Management Act, to deal with this serious threat to the health of everyone in our community. Many of these orders change daily as the situation escalates and we will continue to monitor and engage with Government at all levels.
SSAA WA understands tough decisions need to be made and we will continue to support all health based recommendations to protect the people of Australia. We will continue to update members throughout this crisis and encourage all members to follow all Government Health advice and directives.
Gun Shop Closures
In light of this, we do not accept the recent decision by the WA Government to forcibly close Gun Shops and the Firearm Dealer Network, implying that Sporting Shooters and 85,000 licensed firearm owners in Western Australia are in any way a threat to public safety or pose any greater risk in being allowed to trade in the same way other hardware, sporting or camping suppliers remain open for business.
Unlike any other sporting or recreational groups or individuals, all licensed law abiding firearm owners are background checked, required to comply with all regulations of the WA Firearms Act, and are approved by the WA Police, following a rigorous process to be issued with a firearm licence.
To imply with some vague justification that since shooting clubs and shooting ranges have voluntarily closed, and due to the public health crisis, all licensed firearm owners cannot now be trusted is political grandstanding at best. Golf clubs remain open as do shops that sell golfing equipment. Furthermore to attempt to create an environment that suggested stockpiling of firearms and ammunition was occurring due to the pandemic, and refuse to accept the evidence available that international supply and demand, the falling Australian dollar, the traditional Easter holiday spike and the recent release of long awaited new sporting firearm models were all major contributors to a surge in sales, is further evidence of the recent and ongoing disregard shown to the firearm industry, that has been part of the Australian vernacular for over 100 years.
Sporting Shooters, WA Firearm owners and the WA Firearm Industry are vilified and insulted yet again, with no justification to support this decision, zero consultation with key stakeholders and a complete contempt for the thousands of people now unemployed throughout the industry. This is clearly evident with the daily back flipping on the decision by the WA Police and the unworkable changes that have been hastily convened in an attempt to appear to be consultative with the sections of the firearm community that are now deemed essential.
This call was made, despite the Prime Minister and the National Cabinet stating that all jobs are essential and as long as all rules relating to social distancing and hygiene could be maintained, businesses could and should remain open. The SSAA WA will support all measures to have this decision reversed and is actively consulting with the WA Firearms Traders Association, Members of Parliament and our legal team to ensure a fair playing field is maintained for our industry and all Firearm Owners across the State. The most highly regulated industry in the country and members of our community should not be treated any differently with regard to continuing to purchase, trade, maintain employment and support their families, whilst actively contributing to this National Emergency and following all the measures set down by State and Federal Governments.
Firearm Applications being cancelled
SSAA WA has recently received reports of firearm applications being declined and when questions were raised in Parliament, the following response was issued by the WA Police: “Recent applications have also been assessed taking into account current directions made pursuant to the State of Emergency in Western Australia and legislative requirements”.
WA Police have also issued a response with respect to a question on refunds of firearm application charges stating “the police component of firearm application fees is refunded if an application is declined. When an application is declined, the refund process is undertaken automatically, Australia Post fees associated with firearms applications are retained by Australia Post and is a fee for the service it provides”
SSAA WA has been in contact with the WA Police Ministers Office regarding this issue and we have yet to receive a clear answer to the questions posed relating to recent changes to the processing of firearm applications, genuine need or refunds of declined applications.
Whilst it may be the situation that essential WA Police are being re tasked to other duties during this crisis, or for any other reason, law abiding new applicants and licensed firearm owners should reasonably expect a simple and direct answer to any changes to firearm licensing applications and the reasoning behind any changes.
SSAA WA will continue to direct our enquiry to the WA Police Ministers Office and provide an update as soon as possible. In addition, should it be the case that WA Police are suggesting only partial refunds for any declined firearm applications is to be implemented; this is disgraceful and will be addressed immediately.
The SSAA is the pre-eminent law-abiding firearm owner’s association in Australia, and by virtue of our responsibility to our members and all licensed firearm owners, we will always be part of the Australian community and contribute to dealing with any National Emergency. We will not tolerate emergency measures being used to unfairly target law-abiding firearms owners and allow rules to be created by WA Police, outside of the powers of the WA Firearms Act or Emergency Regulations.
Now more than ever, we all need to follow the measures introduced to protect ourselves and the community. With hard borders to be introduced and regional travel across our state severely restricted, it is difficult to not feel that our freedoms are being stripped away on a daily basis. Our regular hunting and shooting activities are being curtailed, as are most other parts of our daily lives.
Take this time to organize, clean and prepare your gear. Some gun shop retailers remain open and now is the time to support them. Buy some cleaning gear, update that scope you wanted, grab a new gun bag. These actions can be performed safely and within the rules around social distancing. When this crisis is resolved, we need our retailers to still be there, so we can all get back to doing what we all love to do.
The SSAA WA will continue to fiercely advocate on your behalf, with the strong belief that every member also has a key role in your local community. Wherever you are across the State, ensure the message gets out there that we will always be law abiding and responsible members of the Community. Laws are made by the people and the people elect their politicians to ensure Laws are implemented for the benefit of everyone. The SSAA WA supports unity and solidarity amongst the Firearm Community and now more than ever we need to combine our energy and resources to be part of our own future.
SSAA (WA) State President