If you follow us online, you’ll probably have come across our posts about the recent Wedgetail WT15-01 drama in Queensland. But what is it, will it affect you, and why should you care?
If you shoot IPSC, ISSF, Metallic Silhouette; or enjoy collectable pistols; you should read on.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of apathy going around the shooting community at the moment, mostly driven by some shooters’ belief that this will not affect them. It might not affect you directly, but the implications might. This toxic paradigm needs to go, which is exactly why we do what we do.
“If they’re going to start just arbitrarily changing categories of anything, we can expect they’ll keep doing this in the future so it’s the principle, that’s the issue.” – Bob Katter (October 2017)
In late 2017, the Federal government and state governments were trying to ratify a 20-year review of the NFA – one of the outcomes of which was a push to reclassify (and effectively ban) lever-action shotguns in all states and territories. In Queensland in particular, this saw the “Weapons Legislation (Lever Action Shotguns) Amendment Regulation” come into force, and all lever-action shotguns with a capacity over five rounds were moved from Category A to Category D. This time, owners got to keep them under “grandfathering” laws.
Fast forward to 2018, and the Australian Border Force decides it has made a mistake by allowing the Riverman OAF rifle into the country. They are reclassified to Category D and a seizure notice is issued to owners.
This time though, whilst they are compensated they are not allowed to retain ownership of the guns – the same ones that Queensland Police Weapons Licensing Branch (WLB) saw fit to issue Permits To Acquire (PTA) for, and allowed them to purchase and obtain.
This is the same QPOL WLB that is currently at war with Queensland farmers, attempting to take Category H licences off of the farming community for no good reason at all.
Notice a pattern? Those seem like isolated cases? What’s the big deal?
Wedgetail Industries have been producing a handgun named the WT15-01 since 2016. The manufacturer was told by QPOL WLB that they would be a Category H firearm.
Weapons licensing issued PTA’s for the WT15-01 some time in 2016 for Metallic Silhouette unlimited division per IHMSA & NRA match rules. In mid 2017, they asked an owner for photos, they were provided and still nothing was said; weapons licensing continued issuing PTA’s until early 2018.
Suddenly in late July, demand notices are sent out telling owners to surrender the firearms to a dealer or Police, and PTA’s start being rejected.
Owners will receive no compensation, and the value of these firearms if sold in Category D would be virtually nil; as there are numerous semi automatic firearms in that category with more utility and a lower price than the WT15-01 which retails for $5850 AUD plus costs.
This is entirely a backdoor method of confiscation without any form of compensation. It shows that QPOL WLB are getting more reckless with their behaviour towards firearm owners.
These firearms are under 750mm, semi-automatic and under .38. They are usable in approved matches. By all reasonable logic (and previous decisions by the courts), they should be Category H.
Weapons licensing approved PTA’s for a period of almost two years, and did so after seeing photos of the firearm. In short, weapons licensing are using reclassification as a backdoor method of confiscation without compensation. They won’t even return the cost of their “mistakenly” approved PTA applications
The reasoning given by weapons licensing for the reclassification of these firearms is:
- They don’t like the calibre (not covered under the act as it’s < .38)
- The “parent firearm” (also not covered in the act)
- They believe that it has the appearance of a Category D self-loading rifle. Therefore (they claim), it is exempt from the Weapons Regulation 1997 7(1) (Category H) because Section 5(1) (Category D) captures it (except that it only applies to a rifle).
Herein lies the problem, Right To Information requests obtained by LAFO Inc show that the officer who carried out a ballistics report for weapons licensing admits he never obtained one, and analysed the firearm from a photo alone. Incorrectly identifying the calibre among other specifics, and even alluding that it could be considered a pistol.
There is a clear agenda at play here – the same one that has been in play the last 22 years.
Previous cases in QLD have seen an Uzi, Jager AP80, Mac-10 and others tested, and declared to be Category H firearms. This is not unwinnable!
It’s a very technical case, and nothing is certain, but we have a chance to set a precedent here. We just need to be organised and well enough funded to challenge it.
The thin end of the wedge
The main argument being made is that of a “parent firearm”, and substantial duplication of a military rifle. This will affect you regardless if you shoot IPSC, Metallic Silhouette, ISSF or collect historics.
Here are some stand out firearms that could be captured, because they also have rifle equivalents. Do I have your attention yet?
Mauser C96 “broomhandle” (we’re not kidding, the stock makes it arguably more at risk)
And if we allow them to start blurring the lines and applying Category R “parent firearm” arguments, then even the humble collectables like the C96, or the common Glock are not immune.
This isn’t some hypothetical. This sets a precedent. If this case is lost, QPOL WLB have the precedent to keep pushing this argument. You can be sure Ruger Chargers will be next. Then where will they stop?
“First they came for the Adler, and I did not speak out; I don’t shoot cowboy action..
Next they came for the Riverman, and I did not speak out; the OAF is a toy.
Then they came for the Wedgetail, and I said nothing, because no one needs one of those…
Then they came for the Chargers, the Glocks, the Mausers; and more. The remaining shooters were not enough to speak out for me.”
Regardless how you feel about the WT15-01, much more is at risk here. We need to stop this in its tracks.
So what has FOU done? What do you need?
We’ve consulted a very prominent lawyer in QLD, well versed in firearms law. We’ve considered our options, made several QCAT applications and begun fundraising.
Our best bet is Judicial Review, this means the Supreme Court will hear the case, which tends to favour more technical argument surrounding the legislation. But, this costs money. Serious money.
We’re a relatively new organisation and unlike some organisations, we don’t hoard member’s money. It goes into elections and political campaigning and action like this. We need $20,000-30,000 just to have the case heard if we apply for judicial review.
Worse, we only have 28 days to apply. Regardless what happens, we will continue to fight all using all avenues available to us until we exhaust funds or options to appeal.
If you wish to strike a decisive blow against the continued onslaught facing our community, then now is your chance.
If every follower on our Facebook page alone gave just $1, we would blow past our target. We urge you, if you enjoy shooting and you like interesting firearms or pistol shooting. Please donate whatever you can afford. $1, $5 or $50. Help protect the future of shooting!
If you wish to strike a blow at this continued assault on our firearm freedoms and turn the tide then now is your chance.
You can donate at our GoFundMe here: https://www.gofundme.com/WT15-01FightingFund
A huge thank you to all who have already donated.
If you want to learn more, have a listen to the conversation between FOU Vice President Kirk and Jason from the Australian Hunting Podcast: