Category Archives: QCAT

QCAT makes sensible ruling on firearm suppressors

Some positive news out of Queensland:

“A Queensland tribunal has published a ruling that argues a state ban on firearm silencers “may be questionable”, amid concern from gun control advocates that strict laws are being undermined by an increasing number of legal challenges to licence decisions.

In Queensland, police decide whether to grant firearms licenses but determinations can be appealed to the Queensland civil and administrative tribunal (QCat). Late last year the tribunal ruled in favour of a farmer seeking an exemption from the state’s weapons act that would allow him to use a “suppressor” or silencer.

Under Queensland law, any device designed to reduce the sound from a firearm is banned and considered a “category R” weapon, alongside mostly military grade weapons like machine guns, hand grenades, mortars and rocket launchers.

Some farmers argue there is a workplace health and safety imperative to protect the hearing of otherwise licensed, legal gun users. The concern about silencers is that they pose a safety risk, particularly on rural properties where the sound of a gunshot can warn others of live fire.

Police rejected the farmer’s application for an exemption in February on the grounds that “weapon possession and use are subordinate to the need to ensure public and individual safety”.

The farmer told the tribunal he was “at extreme risk” of hearing loss and presented supporting evidence including a position paper published by Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, a US-based offshoot of the Second Amendment Foundation. The tribunal ruled to overturn the police decision. The tribunal returned the matter to police for reconsideration but issued directions that the farmer had “established sufficient genuine need to have and use a suppressor”.

“Although ultimately a matter for the [state parliament], it bears comment that the evidence heard before the tribunal in this matter suggests that the desirability of continuing to include suppressors within Category R may be questionable, particularly in circumstances where all of the other items in that category are military-grade weapons,” the ruling said.

Police have launched an appeal against the decision, which has also concerned gun control advocates, who say the appeals process is being used to weaken and redefine the operation of strict gun laws.

“I don’t know of any other act that has so many appealable decisions,” Sam Lee, the president of Gun Control Australia said.

A Legal Aid lawyer feigning outrage about appeals. Oh dear.

Of course, authoritarians such as Sam just want you to shut up and take it much like John Howard the other day.

The full ruling can be found here but the main grab from the QCAT is this:

“[31] Accordingly, the order of the Tribunal must be one that is made under s.24(1)(c) of the QCAT Act. I therefore set aside the decision now under review, and return the matter to the commissioner of police for reconsideration, subject to the following further directions by the Tribunal:

(a) the Applicant has established sufficient genuine need to have and use a suppressor, otherwise defined as a ‘silencer’ within Weapon Category ‘R’;
(b) subject to the determination of appropriate conditions (if any) for purposes of s.148(2)(b) of the Weapons Regulation 2016 (Qld), grounds exist for the conferral of an exemption pursuant to s.2(1)(m) of the Weapons Act for the Applicant to possess a category R weapon;
(c) it is for the Commissioner of the Police Service or his delegate to determine any applicable conditions of the prospective exemption.

[32] Although ultimately a matter for the Legislature, it bears comment that the evidence heard before the Tribunal in this matter suggests that the desirability of continuing to include suppressors within Category R may be questionable, particularly in circumstances where all of the other items in that category are military-grade weapons.”

Spot on QCAT.

It again goes to show what a ridiculous state of affairs the “gold standard” firearm laws are when a small piece of tubular steel that redistributes gas is in the same category as explosives, but this is nothing new to most firearm owners.

We all know Ian Stewart’s view on firearms and the Queensland Police appeal will be interesting to see.

That aside, the QCAT ruling demonstrates there are no good arguments against banning firearm suppressors in Australia – only ideological, emotive idiocy. With hearing damage costing the Australian public millions a year, it’s common sense to allow these for all firearm owners, not just farmers. Curtin University came to the same conclusion in 2011.

It’s even more absurd given the fact that just over the Tasman our Kiwi brethren can purchase these with no problems. They are also mandatory for hunting in the UK, available in the US and many European nations.

Deregulate them and let’s move on.