Gun owners feel victimised by new WA firearms laws, touted as ‘toughest’ in the country

Gun owners feel victimised by new WA firearms laws, touted as ‘toughest’ in the country

In short:

The Nationals WA hosted a meeting in Kalgoorlie to talk about the state government’s changes to the Firearms Act.

Attendees were saying they feel like they have been labelled as ‘bad people’ for owning guns.

What’s next?

The Nationals party has promised to disallow the legislation if elected in the 2025 state election.

Gun owners in the Kalgoorlie region say they have been left in the dark about amendments to legislation and believe the changes have “victimised them for being law abiding” firearms owners.

In late June, the state government passed a bill it touted as “Australia’s toughest firearms laws”.

It means new legislation designed to make it harder to access gun licences — including requiring stronger evidence of the need for a firearm — will come into effect from March 2025.

The Nationals WA hosted a forum in Kalgoorlie to discuss issues surrounding the new legislation on Tuesday night.

Farmers and recreational shooters aren’t happy with the recent amendments to the WA firearms Act. (ABC News: Sam Clark)

Kalgoorlie Sporting and Shooting Association president Tony Herron was at the meeting and said the reforms and subsequent media coverage portrayed gun owners as bad people.

“It seems that people are being victimised for being law abiding firearm owners,” he said.

“Any firearms [I] own [have] already been approved by the police and the commissioner. They know my storage location, they know my address.

“So, to be portrayed in the media as being criminal … or dangerous for the fact that I own firearms … that’s not true.”

Tony Herron says gun owners have been unfairly labelled as “bad people”.(ABC Goldfields: Giulia Bertoglio)

Complex legislation rushed through

Nationals WA leader Shane Love said the attendance of around 70 people at the meeting showed considerable interest in the issue.

Mr Love labelled the government’s engagement with the community a “disgrace” and said many of the submissions people made during the consultation phase were not considered.

Mr Love said the government was trying to create fear among the community.

“What they want to do is to make firearm owners feel [like], and be seen as being, a threat to community safety,” he said.

Nationals WA leader Shane Love hosted a meeting in Kalgoorlie to talk to gun owners.(ABC Goldfields: Giulia Bertoglio)

Mr Love told attendees the Nationals had the ability to disallow regulations created under the legislation in the lower house if elected in 2025.

“So if … the lower house, were to disallow them — the regulations — which are yet to be drawn up, then that would put a halt to the implementation of this act,” he said.

Police Minister Paul Papalia said there had been a long consultation process, which started in 2014.

“It went through the last term of our government … there was a consultative process driven by a committee in the upper house, then this particular process to rewrite the acts was two and a half years long,” he said.

Minister Papalia said the consultation also included town hall meetings, direct meetings with firearms clubs and police, and a consultation paper.

“Then the draft of the legislation was introduced to parliament. It was amended a couple of times in response to things that were brought up on the floor of parliament,” he said.

He said all the peak bodies that represent farmers in WA support the legislation.

“They helped write it,” he said.

“Primary producers and competitive shooters, really, largely won’t be impacted by this legislation.”

Garth Foster from Foster and Co Pet Meat and Pest Control was one of 70 attendees at the meeting.(ABC Goldfields: Giulia Bertoglio)

Still a lot of unknown

Director of Foster and Co Meat and Pest Control Gary Foster was also at the meeting in Kalgoorlie. 

He said uncertainty around the changes was creating some anxiety for people who might be impacted.

“The number of firearms [allowed under the changes] might not affect my business,” Mr Foster said.

“But the reduction in people that are using firearms and having … a shop that’s storing or providing sales of ammunition, and bits and pieces that help support our business, that’s hugely going to be affected.

“So yeah, I think a lot of people are just a little bit anxious about what could possibly come out.”

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