The group of organisations of which Field & Game Australia are a part wrote to Mr. Keenan on the 27th of March attaching a copy of the analysis of the proposed National Firearms Agreement (NFA) which details changes other than those related to re-classifying lever action shotguns. You can read the analysis here (alternate link)
We have sought an assurance from Mr. Keenan that he will honour his commitment to limit changes to the NFA to those related to the re-classifying of lever action shotguns, and a commitment that he will ensure that state and territory governments do not use a new NFA to make changes to current laws and regulations concerning firearms.
We also sought an assurance that he would remove the obligation on collectors to destroy any firearm manufactured after 1946.
Mr. Keenan has not replied to the letter.
Meanwhile, since the existence of these other changes became known, Mr. Keenan is telling a different story. The consequence is to divert attention from his commitment.
Now he is saying that the NFA is not binding and that the states and territories can choose to do whatever they like.
This position sits uncomfortably with those shooters who remember the financial pressure that then Prime Minister John Howard applied on some states, at least, to accept the NFA in 1996.
It is at odds with Mr. Howard’s claim that the 1996 gun law changes were one of his greatest achievements, a reminder of which was Mr. Howard’s speaking at a fundraising function for an anti-gun lobby during the Adler controversy.
It is also contradicted by some states at least which justify their decisions with respect to firearms policy in the name of the NFA. A recent example is the tabling of the NFA by the Weapons Licensing Branch of Queensland Police in a Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal case to justify their decision.
Now there is a suggestion that extra changes were included in a document which was accepted by either a meeting of police ministers or COAG in November or December last year. There was no discussion or consultation about these changes.
If this document were presented to a meeting, it would be interesting to know if all the people who attended the meeting were aware of these extra changes and if discussion about the document was limited to changes affecting the classification of the Adler.
If this suggestion were true, it would mean that Mr. Keenan continued to give his commitment to limit the changes to the NFA months after they had been presented to a meeting of police ministers or COAG.
Governments honouring commitments is an issue which goes beyond firearms policy. While we have become accustomed to politicians saying one thing and doing another it does not mean that we should accept it. Governments need to be held to account for commitments they make.
Every shooter and collector needs to ensure that the federal government knows that we expect it to honour its commitment that the only changes to the NFA will be those related to re-classifying lever action shotguns.