26 September 2023

Review to take shot at firearms registry

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A three month review of the NSW Firearms Registry has been announced as proposed changes to the law may give specially licensed shooters renewed access to Category D firearms.

Announcing the review, Minister for Police, Paul Toole said it would be headed up by former NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Geoff McKechnie.

“A number of improvements have already been made to the workings of the Registry, and this review will examine other steps that could be taken to ensure the privilege of gun ownership and licensing is balanced against the need to assess applications in a thorough but timely manner,” Mr Toole said.

He said the Registry oversaw as many as 245,000 licence holders and over one million registered firearms across NSW.

The Minister is set to introduce amendments to the Firearms Act 1996 and the Firearms Regulation 2016 which would give some primary producers and pest animal controllers access to Category D firearms, such as self-loading rifles.

“Category D firearm licences are very tightly controlled and can be issued for specific firearms, including some self-loading centre fire rifles – and only in instances where the Commissioner is satisfied there is a genuine reason of vertebrate pest animal control for the firearm, and that there is a special need for the person to possess a Category D firearm,” Mr Toole said.

“Self-loading centre fire rifles which have been designed or are currently adapted for military purposes remain strictly prohibited in NSW,” he said.

“I have worked closely with industry to create a permanent and practical solution for the estimated 500 Category D licence holders who were affected by a 2020 NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal determination, which inadvertently rendered some Category D firearms previously assessed as legal to be prohibited in NSW.”

Mr Toole said a series of rolling regulations had been used in a bid to overcome the prohibition, but a permanent fix was needed.

He said the rise in wild pig numbers, among other pest animals, highlighted the importance of firearms as a necessary tool of trade for many NSW landholders.

“These firearms have been legally imported or manufactured locally, and can be used to control pest species in Queensland and Victoria, and these proposed legislative amendments strike the right balance to ensure NSW farmers and pest animal controllers have the same access to these firearms.”

Mr Toole said the proposed amendments also included reforms to the current 12-month maximum licence period for primary producer Category D licences to provide additional options for two or five-year licences.

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