Page 1897 - Week 06 - Tuesday, 6 June 2017

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MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (10.58): I am pleased to speak in support of the Firearms Amendment Bill. This bill amends the Firearms Act 1996 to reclassify lever action shotguns. This is a technical amendment to our gun licensing program that supports a strong, up-to-date regulatory framework for responsible firearms ownership. I hardly need to remind the Assembly of the importance of effective gun laws.

As Australians, the Port Arthur massacre is burnt into our collective memories. In the wake of Port Arthur the states, territories and commonwealth of Australia banded together to introduce restrictive gun laws across the country. In the 20 years since, our gun homicide rates have dropped significantly. It has been one of the great success stories of gun control around the world. However, technology and markets continue to change and we must keep our laws updated to reflect these new developments.

This bill implements recent amendments to the national firearms agreement, which reclassified lever action shotguns. Following the 2014 Martin Place siege, it was agreed at the Council of Australian Governments meeting in December 2016 that lever action shotguns should be reclassified nationally. In 2015 the federal government imposed a temporary ban on the importation of lever action shotguns of more than five rounds. This was in response to the imminent arrival of a significant number of lever action shotguns with a magazine capacity of seven rounds, in particular the Adler A110. The ban was extended, and it will remain in place until all jurisdictions have given effect to COAG’s December 2016 decision.

As the opposition mentioned, the ACT is the first jurisdiction to introduce legislative amendments to reclassify lever action shotguns, in line with the amended national firearms agreement. The use of a lever action to load new cartridges into the barrel of a shotgun means shots can be fired more quickly than if you have to manually reload. 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.

With increasing access to newer technology, there is a greater potential for danger. The impact of increased rates of fire, higher magazine capacities and changes in the legal firearms market must be taken seriously. However, we must also remember that there are many valid uses for firearms, such as target shooting, pest management and farming activities. These are legitimate activities that allow licensed owners to make a valuable contribution to the community and our economy.

Firearms reform must be an inclusive process that fosters shared understanding and respect for the interests of licensed firearms owners. With this in mind, the bill respects the balance between community safety and the interests of licensed firearm owners by ensuring lever action shotguns are available only to those who have a genuine need to use them. It achieves this by reclassifying lever action shotguns under the Firearms Act. Lever action shotguns with up to five rounds will be reclassified so that ownership is restricted to farmers and to people with the specific need to use the firearm, such as pest controllers.

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