NEARLY $10,000 has been spent by one Queensland shooting organisation in legal fights on behalf of its members following policy changes by the state’s Weapons Licensing Branch – and there’s no sign of that letting up anytime soon, either.
Following in the wake of a Question on Notice in Queensland Parliament from KAP Member for Hinchinbrook, Nick Dametto last week demanding an explanation for firearms licensing delays, cancellations and seizures, pre-eminent pro-shooting organisation Shooters Union Australia has waded into the fray.
Shooters Union Australia president Graham Park said the organisation had spent nearly $10,000 this year alone helping its members with Weapons Licensing issues.
“It’s completely unprecedented – we’ve dealt with more requests for legal help from our members in the past two months than we have in the past two years,” he said.
“It all stems from a deeply flawed Audit into Weapons Licensing, and in particular the auditors essentially not understanding what they were looking at and deciding, for some inexplicable reason, that law-abiding firearms users were the issue and not the incredibly outdated and not-fit-for-purpose systems in the state’s firearms registry.
“We’ve supported more than a dozen applications to the Queensland Civil Administration Tribunal (QCAT), covering everything from people having licences taken off them for speeding offences from decades ago, to primary producers who WLB deemed didn’t earn enough as a farmer to keep their licence.
“In a lot of cases, the situation is sorted out amicably before the QCAT hearing, but a number of cases have gone all the way with rulings in the shooter’s favour.
Mr Park said the situation now was simply chewing up vast sums of taxpayer’s money and administrative resources for no reason other than political appearances.
“Every dollar wasted by police justifying a pointless QCAT case because someone got busted smoking a marijuana joint in 1998 is a dollar that’s not being used to ensure frontline police and emergency services personnel have the equipment and resources they need to fight real and serious crimes like assault or robbery,” he said.
“What makes it worse is this problem could literally go away today if Weapons Licensing stopped actively looking for reasons to deny licenses to people, and went back to the way things were before the Audit when everything was working more or less satisfactorily.”
Mr Park welcomed Mr Dametto’s Question on Notice and said bureaucratic over-reach needed to be exposed and held to account.
“Imagine if the Department of Transport decided to refuse you a driver’s licence because of a decades old misdemeanour, or because you had dodgy mates, or because they decided you didn’t live far enough from your work to need a car – that’s pretty much exactly what happens to law-abiding shooters all the time,” he said.
“We are glad an MP is standing up for the constituents and saying ‘This is not OK’, and we are very much looking forward to the Police Minister’s reply when he provides it by March 29.”
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AN E-mail bungle by Queensland Police has exposed the personal details of hundreds of the
state’s licensed firearm owners, sparking security concerns being raised by one of
Queensland’s peak pro-shooting organisations.
A police officer in the Moreton Police District, encompassing parts of the Moreton Bay
region, sent an e-mail to more than 350 licensed gun owners on Wednesday, advising them
to ensure their firearms security was in order following a series of break-ins in the region.
However, the sender did not hide the recipient’s e-mail addresses, meaning every single
person who received the e-mail also received the names and e-mail addresses of the other
Shooters Union Queensland president Graham Park said while it might sound like a
harmless error of the type anyone could make, it could have extremely serious
“Thanks to this error, the details of several hundred licensed gun owners have been
exposed including their names and e-mail addresses,” he said.
“It might not sound like much, but that alone is enough for someone with criminal intent to
start piecing together the location of hundreds of firearms in the area.”
Moreton District Officer Superintendent John Hallam said investigations showed human error was the cause of the breach of more than 1,200 email addresses.
“The email address of the licensed weapon holders was placed in the ‘to’ line of the email as opposed to the blind copy line,” he said.
“It was an honest mistake — there’s been nothing to indicate the officer did it for any other reason.
“The officer did endeavour to recall the email as soon as she realised what the error was but unfortunately that was unsuccessful.”
Mr Hallam acknowledged the concern from the shooting community.
“I accept that the error is unacceptable. I understand how it occurred but it is unacceptable,” he said.
“I understand there is a level of concern amongst the people that their personal details have been sent out.
“What was sent out was their email address and their email address only and it went to other licensed weapons holders.”
Shooters Union president Graham Park said the error cast more doubt on the firearm registry system in Queensland.
“This system is supposed to be a highly secure system,” he said.
Mr Park said while gun owners were, by legislation and their nature, among the very most
trustworthy and law-abiding people in the community, an additional concern was how the
information came to be mishandled in the first place.
“It seems a lot like all these e-mail addresses were somehow put in a spreadsheet or text
document or something like that, then copied into an e-mail address field,” he said.
“The fact there’s an option in the firearms management software to mass-extract e-mail
addresses is a gigantic security flaw that raises extremely serious questions about the
integrity of the firearms registry system in Queensland as a whole.
“What other data can be pulled out easily and transferred elsewhere?”
Shooters Union Australia has contacted the Police Minister requesting the situation be resolved – not just with an apology and a shrug, but a commitment to fix the issues and
ensure affected shooters are protected and compensated if they suffer any adverse affects
from the breach.
“The irony is one of the advice items from the police to licence-holders in the e-mail was
‘Don’t make it public knowledge that you possess firearms’,” Mr Park said.
“That’s now off the table for those several hundred gun owners, all because of a situation
outside their control and which shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”