Monday the 26th of August the shooting community woke to the news that Licensing and Regulation Division (LRD) were going to be reclassifying the Remington 7615 pump action rifle due to the fact “the rifle can be customised to different configurations, and take an AR mag”. This news came from an article released by the National Shooting Council (NSC), a recently established pro-firearms organisation seemingly run by Neil Jenkins, who was previously involved with the Combined Firearms Council of Victoria (CFCV).
It was shared a number of times on Facebook but did not really gain traction until Tuesday morning. By this stage, it had caught the attention of other organisations, who began contacting their own sources in an attempt to ascertain the credibility of the allegations and concerns raised. The team here at Firearm Owners United also did their own investigation. After speaking with a number of industry heads, by Tuesday afternoon we, and every other organisation, arrived at the same conclusion, the only source on this matter was the NSC.
From the outset, there were few people on social media expressing scepticism, while the vast majority of people jumped on the bandwagon, sharing the post and angrily commenting about it. Before commenting on the matter, we wanted to ensure we had an accurate view of the facts.
The facts we had on hand were:
· The NSC was the only source of the information
· Victoria does allow the Chief Commissioner to reclassify any firearm without it going through parliament.
· Reclassification will normally take place when “a firearm has been designed or adapted for military purposes or substantially duplicates a ‘militaristic-type’ firearm in design, function or appearance.”
· At the time of writing this response, there is nothing in the Gazette in regards to a reclassification.
· LRD had hinted previously that “appearance” is on their radar to peak bodies.
As a result, comment was sought from LRD, however this did raise a few worrying questions. Namely, if the NSC does in fact have information, why was it not immediately shared within the industry so something could be done about it? What is achieved by the NSC withholding the information? Furthermore, the NSC claims to have contacted every peak shooting organisation in Australia as part of an awareness of political problems campaign. NSC also claimed as part of this, they were “laying the groundwork for better communication in the industry”.
Firearm Owners United to date has not received correspondence from the NSC in relation to this matter, nor any other matters.
By Tuesday night, responses from LRD to concerned individuals started to appear online, and they all said the same thing, there are no plans to reclassify the Remington 7615. Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA) Victorian branch published a post detailing their contact with LRD, which confirmed the same thing. They also asked what everyone else was asking the NSC, “What evidence do you have?” We congratulate the SSAA Victoria branch for how quickly they were able to address this issue despite having no other information than what was available from the NSC.
The article from the NSC did nothing but cause unnecessary panic, making the community almost seem paranoid.
It would appear that recent statements pertaining to what was reportedly a pending reclassification are entirely false. Nonetheless, it does still bring to the forefront issues related to the Victorian Police Commissioner’s reclassification power. Such power could be enacted at any point, and without any real justification. Whilst the power is currently delegated to a Classification Review Committee, there is no assurance that this power will not be abused to implement significant changes to firearm classifications. Furthermore, the reclassification power does not provide affected owners with any right to compensation; meaning if a change were to be implemented, owners would be left out of pocket.