Page 3706 - Week 10 - Thursday, 14 September 2017

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Our firearms legislation strikes a balance between respecting the principle of ensuring public safety and the interests of licensed and legitimate firearms users. The government acknowledges that the overwhelming majority of firearms users are law-abiding citizens. There are many valid uses of firearms in the community, including target shooting, pest animal management and primary production. These activities allow shooters to make a valuable contribution to the community and the economy.

The amendments in this bill reinforce the underlying principle of community safety from firearms crime in several important ways, while allowing for better administration of the legislation and greater access to firearms for legitimate users under specified circumstances.

Some of the amendments in the bill that contribute to the overarching aim for public safety include: greater storage requirements for firearms for category A and B licence holders who possess more than 10 firearms—these licensees will now be required to store their weapons in a metal, brick or concrete safe; a prohibition on the possession of credit card knives or other bladed weapons that are disguised to look like innocuous items—credit card knives have already been banned in other Australian jurisdictions, including New South Wales; a prohibition on centre-fire rifle magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds; and greater protection of criminal intelligence or security sensitive information used by the Firearms Registrar to inform decisions about licences. This will protect information that could prejudice a criminal investigation, identify a confidential source of information or endanger a person’s life or physical safety.

The bill also aims to provide more clarity for firearms users. The amendments make it clear to firearms owners what their responsibilities are in the ACT for possessing and storing firearms. The bill also allows greater access to firearms and prohibited articles in two instances: firstly, by firearms instructors to ensure that they can better demonstrate the proper and safe use of firearms to their students. Currently, the Firearms Act 1996 only authorises an instructor to possess and use firearms which are licensed by them or their employing club. The bill will allow an instructor to temporarily possess and use a firearm belonging to another person to demonstrate the use of the firearm to the student.

Secondly, the bill authorises the possession and use of suppressors, also called silencers, under strict circumstances. These include for conservation officers and veterinary surgeons to euthanise injured fauna such as native animals or livestock that have been hit by a car. The use of suppressors in these instances is important for environmental reasons as suppressors reduce the noise emitted from the firing of a firearm, causing less distress to an animal population and less noise pollution. Both these examples of greater access to firearms and otherwise prohibited articles have strict controls in place to ensure that they will not be misused.

The bill also contains provisions to make it easier for ACT firearms licensees to store their weapons in New South Wales, if that is where they work. The Firearms Act 1996 currently provides that a licensee must store each registered firearm held under the

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