Lever-action shotguns with a five-round magazine will no longer be a Category A firearm and will now be officially classed as a Category B firearm. A lever-action shotgun with a magazine capacity greater than five rounds will be classed Category D.
The reclassification was introduced to bring Victoria into line with the National Firearms Agreement which was revamped in 2016 and is a part of the Justice Legislation Amendment (Police and Other Matters) Bill 2019.
The Bill was put to a vote in the Upper House and was supported by the Liberal Party, National Party, ALP, Victorian Greens, other micro parties and some of the independents.
The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, Liberal Democrats and Independent Catherine Cummings voted against the reclassification of the shotgun.
SFFP MP Jeff Bourman proposed an amendment which would see lever-action shotguns remain Category A and Liberal Party MP Gordon Rich-Phillips argued for Mr Bourman’s amendment.
During discussion about the amendment, Mr Rich-Phillips directed pointed questions to Minister Gayle Tierney, who represented the Police Minister in the Upper House.
Hansard shows it became clear the Minister and her advisors had little understanding of the lever-action shotgun nor the lack of necessity to reclassify it.
However, Mr Bourman’s amendment was defeated and the Bill was carried with Liberal Party support.
“We thank the Upper House members for their efforts in trying to bring common sense to this decision and voting against the Amendment Bill,” SSAA Victoria CEO Jack Wegman said.
“There is no sensible reason to reclassify a lever-action firearm, let alone a shotgun, and the language used to support the reclassification is completely laughable for anyone who knows anything about firearms.
“This is an attack on the freedoms of law-abiding firearms owners. It is further evidence that the fear campaigns pedalled by anti-firearms groups, who want us to believe gun laws are being weakened, are based on lies and serve no-one but themselves.
“It is clear that this a purely political decision and we are perplexed as to why the Liberal Party or The Nationals did not vote against it and show that they have the interests of law-abiding firearms owners at heart.”
In putting forward the amendment to the Bill, Mr Bourman said reclassifying lever-action shotguns was not based on evidence.
“There is no data to support these changes,” he said.
“The data around misuse of this type of firearm was examined when the National Firearms Agreement was first introduced in 1996, and lever action shotguns were placed in Category A.
“There is no new information in the time since then that supports making changes now.
“This is nothing but a political move to appease inner-city dwellers and makes no concession to the facts.”
In a blunt speech to the Upper House during deliberation on the Bill, Liberal Democrats’ Tim Quilty said he believed firearms legislation changes should be based on evidence.
“There is no evidence to base today’s proposed changes on only the salami tactics for creeping confiscation,” he said.
“If ignorance is bliss, this chamber is in heaven today. Those of you who call it (a lever-action shotgun such as the Adler) a rapid-fire weapon only do so because it’s something you heard it on the ABC.
“If you hear someone talking about the Adler on the ABC, they’re lying. And when you repeat it, you sound like an idiot.”
In response to the new legislation changes, SSAA Victoria will increase its advocacy activity by directly targeting politicians who speak publicly on firearms issues.
SSAA Victoria CEO Jack Wegman said it is vital to make those in power aware of the impact their decisions have on SSAA members and other firearms owners and to provide balance to the firearms debate.
“SSAA Victoria has always been active in political advocacy and our State Office team is constantly putting forward submissions on key firearms and hunting issues,” Mr Wegman said.
“However, some of the debate around the Adler shotgun shows there is a real need to further educate those whose opinions have been skewed by the lies and exaggerations of agenda-driven activist groups.”