Bookmark and Share

 

 
Adelaide’s Sunday Mail  last weekend carried a story on page 22 headlined “Crims to have guns returned”.  It claimed “Imitation handguns seized from known criminals could be handed back if a challenge to new laws banning their possession goes ahead.” Close reading of the article shows that there is little chance of "crims" having any guns returned.
 
First of all, if an imitation handgun has been seized from “known criminals”, it is presumably because the ‘known criminal’ is alleged to have been committing an offence at the time. So, the ‘imitation handgun(s)’ will likely be used as evidence in a criminal proceeding and will not be handed back in the case of a guilty plea, or if a guilty verdict is delivered by the court on the basis of evidence presented.  To claim otherwise is misleading.
 
Second, the regulation itself is so poorly drafted that we believe it opens a door wide enough to drive a bus through:
 
Regulation 4(1)—after paragraph (j) insert:
    (ja)    imitation firearms that closely resemble a firearm referred to in a preceding paragraph or that do not closely resemble such a firearm or a firearm of Class A, B, C, D or H;
 
Read that mish-mash carefully and see if it makes any sense. If any one can explain what it means, i.e. what it actually means not what it is supposed to mean, then please tell us because we think the whole thing may have been written by a 5-year-old. This is a field day in the making for members of the legal profession. And why not? It deserves to be challenged.
 
Regulations are not routinely debated in parliament and a debate is only brought forward when a disallowance motion is tabled, as in this case. When a regulation is as poorly drafted as this it deserves to be disallowed. Our “Lords and Masters” grow arrogant with the passing of time and MP’s who question their sillier efforts must be supported.

 

And as with legislation that is meant to protect people from the depredations of criminals there are unintended consequences. People who collected replicas in good faith suddenly find themselves outside the law because the Premier of South Australia wants to bolster his "tough on crime" credentials. Some replica firearms have cost their owners thousands of dollars. Legal one day, illegal the next. And all this without a skerrick of consultation with people who have never acted illegally and never intend to. But Caesar has spoken and the plebs will obey or face the consequences.

 

MP's must act to disallow this poorly drafted regulation which seeks to inflict collective punishment on a small section of the population for the criminal misdeeds of others. Once again, the government of S.A. appears to be using a sledge hammer to crack a walnut, when a little thought might achieve the same result without the pain.

 

 UPDATE:

 

The regulations were duly disallowed by parliament and were reinstated by South Australia's  Police Minister the Hon. Michael Wright in December 2009 with minor alterations, the effect of which is to make the "new" regulations to all intents and purposes, exactly the same as the ones that were disallowed by parliament in early November. The government has reinstated the regulations with all their concomitant faults as if they were never disallowed by parliament. Parliament does not sit again until March so the opportunity for parliamentary action is unavailable until then.