The State Premiers Conference met on 6 December 2002 and agreed to a new raft of amendments relating to handguns and the discipline of pistol shooting.

It will be some time before we are able to assess the full ramifications of the decisions but it is clear that both the Federal and State governmerits have had a virtual freeride in reaching their policy decisions.

Whilst it will be some time before we can comment on the detail of the decisions taken, it would appear, in unanimous agreement between the States and the Commonwealth we believe it is appropriate to comment on the process undertaken to reach that agreement. You may be surprised by some of the issues revealed below:

  • The Australian Shooting Association (ASA) declined to enter into the negotiations even though it was clearly a national issue.
  • Negotiations were left to a single representative each from Pistol Australia and SSAA who were self-appointed to the task.
  • Despite formal approaches both representatives refused to divulge their stance on the matter or to consult widely for a balanced opinion. Both representatives should therefore shoulder responsibility for the outcome.
  • To the best of our knowledge no Association within NSW was consulted on the matter.
  • To the best of our knowledge there was only one public statement from an elected official prior to the Premiers Conference that recommended no change to the existing rules and this was from the NSW Police Minister who "agreed to examine a number of measures modelled largely on existing NSW law". Some of you would have been lulled into an expectation that nothing much would change as least as far as NSW was concerned.
  • The only Association to have made a public statement on the matter in support of shooting was the NSW Shooting Association Ltd.

The reality now is that the discipline of pistol shooting may find it difficult if not impossible to chart a longterm course. This is not so much for the reason that up to 500 models of handguns are now prohibited items but for the reason that the regulatory framework for pistol shooting is likely to become so enormously rigid that many will drift from the sport and it will be difficult to replace them.

If one makes a comparison with the discipline in the UK where handguns are completely banned one only has to look at the Commonwealth Games results from Manchester in pistol shooting where only ONE medal was won by a British competitor. At the same time murders through shooting have quadrupled.

Of course we all wish to live in a crime free society but one has to ask whether we have the correct formula to achieve such an end.

When there are definite changes to report on we will let you know. We are reluctant to publish any of the material being circulated at present because it could be seen to be misleading.

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