Page 1310 - Week 04 - Thursday, 30 March 2017
This understanding is embedded in the objects and principles of our Firearms Act. These principles arose in the late 1990s when Australia underwent an extensive national firearm law reform process, primarily in response to the Port Arthur shootings in Tasmania in 1996, where 35 people, including children, were killed and 23 were wounded.
Following these events and other subsequent incidents involving firearms, the Australian, state and territory governments have entered into the three national agreements that have shaped contemporary Australian firearm laws: the national firearms agreement or NFA; the national firearm trafficking policy agreement; and the national handgun control agreement. Importantly, the NFA resulted in restricted legal possession of automatic and semi-automatic firearms.
Today we see the devastating effects these firearms can have in societies where strong controls on keeping these firearms out of the wrong hands are not in place. Almost 20 years later a review of the technical elements of the NFA was recommended, following the Martin Place siege in 2014.
As part of the review of the NFA, at the Council of Australian Governments meeting on 9 December 2016, first ministers agreed to re-classify lever action shotguns. This bill implements a change that is supported by all Australian governments. The revised NFA was released publicly in February this year. The bill meets the government’s commitments made at COAG and aligns with the revised NFA.
In 2015 the Australian government temporarily prohibited the importation of lever action shotguns with a magazine capacity greater than five rounds. This was in response to the imminent arrival in Australia of a significant number of lever action shotguns with a magazine capacity of seven rounds, in particular, the Adler A110. The Australian government has extended the import prohibition on lever action shotguns to allow all jurisdictions to give effect to COAG’s December 2016 decision.
Lever action shotguns are not a new development. However, the concern of commonwealth, state, and territory law enforcement agencies is that the Adler A110 has a significant rate of fire, combined with a magazine capacity greater than the majority of lever action shotguns currently in Australia. As technology evolves, lever action shotguns of any brand will become more sophisticated and potentially more dangerous when in the wrong hands. It is important that our legislation keeps up with technology and correctly regulates firearms as innovations occur.
The ACT is the first jurisdiction to introduce legislative amendments to the treatment of lever action shotguns to align with the updated NFA. In taking the lead to progress these changes, the ACT is showing a proactive commitment to upholding its commitment to the NFA.
The government recognises that the regulation of firearms is an important issue to many people in the community and undertook consultation with justice stakeholders, including ACT Policing, on the form of the bill. We also discussed the content of this bill, and our reasons for it, with the ACT Firearms Consultative Committee. The