Promised reforms to extreme firearm restrictions in the Australian state of Tasmania appear to have stalled. In the March, 2018 general election, the ruling Tasmanian government had promised some common sense reforms to their extreme gun laws. The Liberal Party in Australia is a center right party.
- Establish the Tasmanian Firearms Owners Council made up of firearms owners and other stakeholders.
- Improve the interaction between Firearms Services and firearms owners – and higher service levels. Includes a digital platform where every Tasmanian firearms owner can manage their license and registration requirements, and a promise to end delays and waiting times for licensing and permits.
- Establishing a new Tasmanian competition shooting range to be available to all shooting clubs in Tasmania.
- Broader firearms training and testing provisions ending the monopoly on training and testing that now exists. There are only 3 firearms testers for all of Tasmania, creating severe delays.
- Extend periods of licenses doubling the term of A and B licenses to 10 years, and C licenses for two years.
- Infringement notices for minor storage offenses this allows for an infringement notice, rather like a traffic ticket, instead of summons to court as a crime.
- Finalize an MOU between the Government, Tasmania Police and the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association (TFGA).
The reforms included increased access, by shooters certified to control agricultural pests, to tightly controlled semi-automatic rifles and to silencers. Agricultural pests in Tasmania include feral pigs, exotic deer, European rabbits, and kangaroos. They do enormous damage to Tasmanian crops.
The limited network of government test examiners would be expanded with private contractors to reduce the large backlog of license applications.
These reforms were brought up in the March election. The anti-gun left railed against the reforms, resorting to raw emotion. They said the reforms were a slap in the face of Port Arthur massacre survivors.
The Liberals won the election, holding on to an absolute majority. The Liberals had promised, repeatedly, they would pass the reforms. Now they seem to be backing away from that promise.
The State Government’s proposed changes to gun laws were revealed by the media on the eve of the March state election and sparked condemnation from those who survived the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre.
After months of defending the policy, on Friday Premier Will Hodgman and Police Minister Michael Ferguson announced the Government was dropping the policy.
“We will not pursue the policy proposals that we have previously put forward,” Mr Hodgman said.
In response to the announcement, the Legislative Council inquiry set up to investigate into firearms law reform, which had received 121 submissions, was cancelled.
But on Wednesday afternoon Police Minister Michael Ferguson announced the inquiry would instead be moved to the House of Assembly.
“As we said last week, we will not be progressing the previously announced firearms law proposals until consideration of any recommendations from a parliamentary inquiry,” he said.
Mr Hodgman’s decision was welcomed by the Tasmanian Farmers and Grazers Association (TFGA), who were surprised by the policy backdown.
It does not look good for the reforms. In Australia, as in the United States, the dominant media is rabidly anti-gun. The media were the major force that pushed the extreme gun laws through in 1996 after Port Arthur. Australia does not have equivalent counters to that dominant message such as the Fox News Channel or a Rush Limbaugh.
The Englishman’s right to arms was viable in 1901, when the Australian Constitution was adopted, but it was not explicitly mentioned. Australia doesn’t have a Second Amendment. British law has written the Englishman’s right to arms into a nullity from 1920 to 2018.
Australian’s attempts to reform their extreme gun control laws have had some successes. But the slightest attempt at reform is always met with opposition from the gun control lobby in academia and in the media. In this case, the Tasmanian government appears to have caved to that pressure.
©2018 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.