The following article is really important for any firearm owner who wants to continue their sport. All SSAA Victoria members are asked to print this article off and share it with non-member friends.
Over the past 18 months, SSAA Victoria has called on members to contact politicians on several occasions. But the prospect of approaching politicians is often daunting to members, who have had little experience in dealing with them.
With the impact of the new National Firearms Agreement now resting in the hands of Victorian MPs – after the Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan wiped his hands of it – approaching politicians the right way has never been more important.
The Victorian Firearms Regulations will be reviewed in the next few months; there is no question about it. So, Victorian politicians now need to be made aware of how many shooters live in their electorates, and how important “maintaining the status quo” is.
Why should members approach politicians?
SSAA Victoria regularly meets with politicians from all sides of government, including Senators, Shadow Ministers and backbenchers. Concerns about the National Firearms Agreement and the Victorian Firearm Regulations have been a centrepiece of many meetings in the past 18 months.
However, advice SSAA Victoria has received from politicians is that, when combined with industry lobbying, visits from local constituents – whose votes directly impacted their chance of getting re-elected – had a far greater impact on MPs.
SSAA Victoria’s INVestigation
Over the past several months, SSAA Victoria has obtained advice from several different politicians belonging to three different political parties. And the advice from all of them is the same.
Form emails or template emails do not work. Several politicians confirmed that, once they identified a form email, they were able to set up filters to automatically delete duplicates sent from different addresses.
So, what does work?
The overwhelming feedback SSAA Victoria received was that the best way to get a politician’s attention was to request a face-to-face meeting at their electoral office.
The Association raised the issue of lack of responses to meeting requests. Several politicians said that two or three quick phone calls to their electoral office, or an email request followed by a phone call would do the trick.
Due to work and family commitments, a meeting during office hours with a local MP would be impossible for some members. In those cases, a phone call to the electoral office during a break, or a hard copy letter would be most likely to get attention.
Several politicians told SSAA Victoria that electoral office staff did alert their MP bosses when the same issues were repeatedly brought up in letters and phone calls.
What should you say?
SSAA Victoria has received many phone calls from people whose literacy is not strong. It is important to note that a letter or meeting can be short and simple, but have great effect.
In your letter, or during your meeting, inform your local MP of the following:
- That you live in their electorate.
- That you are a hunter/target shooter/firearm owner/collector, etc.
- That you want to know their stance on the National Firearms Agreement or Victorian firearm laws.
- That you will vote in the 2018 Victorian Election according to the MP’s demonstrated support of sporting shooters.
It’s important to remember that MPs are very busy people, so members should express their concerns within 10 minutes.
In the meeting, your local MP will most likely ask for more information about your interest in the shooting sports. If you wish to invite your MP to your local range, SSAA Victoria would be happy to join you there.
Anyone who wishes to have a hard copy version of this article posted to them, is invited to call SSAA Victoria’s State Office on 03 8892 2777.