Wagga gun clubs “run a pretty tight ship” and stricter laws will not prevent acts like last week’s murder-suicide in Sydney, according to the Sports Shooters Association.
State and national pressure for gun law reform has been building since the shocking murders of two children by their estranged father.
The Association’s Wagga Branch president Arthur Robinson said the vast majority of gun crime was not committed by people with firearms licences and legally registered firearms.
“Most of the crime is committed by unlicenced shooters, and there’s no way you can get them to follow laws,” he said.
Mr Robinson referenced a prior murder-suicide near Margaret River in May, where a man murdered his own grandchildren and their mother.
“Western Australia probably has some of the most stringent gun laws of any state in Australia,” Mr Robinson said
“Unfortunately you can’t legislate to stop people like that.”
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has left open the possibility of government action on gun laws after two teenagers were shot to death by their own father, who later took his own life.
On Monday Ms Berejiklian stopped short of committing to legislative changes to NSW gun laws, but said the government was open to action, if required.
“I've been in touch with the Minister for Police and if there is something we need to do sooner, we will. But we need to get all the facts, and ask the police to do their job,” she said.
Though the police investigation into the West Pennant Hills murders is still ongoing, it has been reported that the perpetrator attempted to join a Sydney pistol shooting club but was blocked by authorities.
The perpetrator later successfully joined an indoor firing range and was able to purchase two handguns, at least one of which was believed to have been used in the murders.
Mr Robinson said it was possible that existing laws might not have been enforced correctly but he did not know the full circumstances in that case.
“You have got to do a safety training course, you have got to do a practical example to prove to the trainer that you can handle a firearm safely,” he said.
“You have got to fill out a form and declare any mental illness and criminal history and prove you are eligible for a firearms licence.
“It’s a fairly tight ship.”
Mr Robinson said gun clubs in Wagga and the Riverina, and across the state, could use their own initiative to prevent a person from joining.
“If we’re uncertain about anyone who comes through our range, we have got the authority to say ‘sorry, but the way you are behaving is not within our rules’,” he said.
“We can ask them to leave quietly, and if they don’t we can call the police.”
NSW Police Minister Troy Grant has also called on the federal government to consider law reforms and greater information sharing between state and national agencies to notify families of safety risks.
Wagga MP Daryl Maguire has been contacted for comment.
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