Bob Wiese

Bob Wiese


    Draft gun legislation more comprehensive than Opposition's plans

    12/06/1995 12:00 AM



    Police Minister Bob Wiese said the Coalition Government's draft gun legislation was far more comprehensive than proposals outlined by the Opposition today.


    Mr Wiese said the Government's proposed wide-ranging changes to the legislation included more than 40 amendments to the Western Australian Firearms Act and also changes to the Criminal Code.


    He said the proposed legislation today won Cabinet approval to be drafted as a 'Green Bill' which would be tabled in Parliament and provide for a period of public comment.


    "We are proposing a total package aimed at gun reforms in this State that will set new standards to the tough measures already in place," he said.


    "While any comments from the Opposition on gun reform are welcome, the majority of their proposals are already operating or are being addressed."


    Mr Wiese said the Government's proposed legislation would provide for secure storage facilities for firearms, ensure stricter controls on registration of gun ownership and increase penalties for breaches of the Firearms Act.


    He said the Opposition's policy document on gun control was lightweight when it came to originality and had borrowed heavily on what was already being proposed as Government legislation.


    "A permanent amnesty for avoiding prosecution on handing in unlicensed firearms already exists and has been in use for more than six months," he said.


    Mr Wiese said thorough background checks for those people applying for firearms licences was already in the system and applicants had to provide genuine reasons for obtaining a licence.


    He said the Government's proposed legislation included a comprehensive registration of gun owners which required all licence holders to have an identity card, similar to a motor driver's licence, at the time of possessing a weapon or purchasing ammunition.


    "This will enable authorities to accurately monitor the movement and the amount of firearms and ammunition in the community," he said.


    Mr Wiese said a conference of Police Ministers recently had proposed a number of recommendations aimed towards uniform national gun laws and addressed the issues of mail-order of firearms and introduction of compulsory safety training standards.


    "The mail-order of firearms from other States has been a major concern for local police, but  it will take a national approach to prevent this practice which I am pleased to say is now being looked at," he said.


    Mr Wiese said the Opposition's plan on banning so-called private stockpiles of 500 rounds per calibre of ammunition was not a realistic option, when many farmers and shooters involved in the destruction of vermin had a legitimate reason for those quantities.


    He also questioned Opposition claims for releasing up to 80 police officers involved in firearms licensing by creating a new regulatory authority when currently the Police Firearms Branch operated with 11 officers and 12 public servants.


    Mr Wiese said other Opposition proposals, including the Buy-Back scheme of weapons, and an independent appeal system would need to be examined more closely to assess any benefits.


    "Public safety is the primary concern behind the State Government's proposed new gun laws," the Minister said.


    "We aim to ensure protection, safety and regulation with a sensible approach to gun reform without ostracising those with a genuine reason for possessing a firearm," he said.


    Media contact:  Mark Thompson 222 9595