Store guns at clubs

Doc­tors lead weapons safety push aimed at sport­ing shoot­ers

The Sunday Times - - NEWS - STEPHEN DRILL AN­NIKA SMETHURST

DOC­TORS want sport­ing shoot­ers to store weapons at gun clubs in­stead of their homes in one of the big­gest shake-ups of gun laws since the Port Arthur mas­sacre.

The Aus­tralian Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion has called on politi­cians to over­haul gun laws, show­ing the lead­er­ship that John Howard did af­ter Martin Bryant’s mass killing.

Vic­tims groups have backed the rad­i­cal safety push, warn­ing there are stock­piles in sub­ur­ban ar­eas. The Sun­day Times un­der­stands that au­thor­i­ties have con­sid­ered gun club stor­age be­cause they were con­cerned about crim­i­nals steal­ing guns from le­git­i­mate own­ers.

The call comes just days af­ter the Las Ve­gas shoot­ing, where Stephen Pad­dock killed 58 con­cert­go­ers from his room on the 32nd floor of the Man­dalay Bay ho­tel.

AMA pres­i­dent Michael Gannon said gun clubs were the safest place to store weapons.

“Farm­ers should be stor­ing weapons se­curely on their prop­erty but there’s no rea­son a sport­ing shooter in a metropoli­tan area needs to keep a gun at home,” he said. “In­di­vid­u­als who own guns and keep them at home are more likely to be vic­tims of gun vi­o­lence.”

The Alan­nah & Made­line Foun­da­tion, which was set up to hon­our three vic­tims of Port Arthur, the chil­dren of Wal­ter Mikac and his wife Nanette, said tak­ing guns out of the home would im­prove safety.

The char­ity’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Les­ley Podesta said: “We have let in­di­vid­u­als stock­pile huge num­bers of firearms in sub­ur­ban ar­eas . . . stor­ing firearms at gun clubs makes sense.

“We def­i­nitely un­der­stand that there is an in­creased risk when guns are in homes.”

But she said there was also a risk gun clubs could be­come tar­gets for would-be crooks.

There has also been ur­gent calls to fast track a real-time na­tional gun reg­is­ter, which was first pro­posed af­ter Bryant killed 35 peo­ple with semi­au­to­matic weapons in 1996, but is still not op­er­at­ing.

In Fe­bru­ary, State lead­ers agreed to pro­vide “suf­fi­cient in­for­ma­tion” to iden­tify each firearm which would be stored on a na­tional sys­tem op­er­ated by the Aus­tralian Crim­i­nal In­tel­li­gence Com­mis­sion.

Jus­tice Min­is­ter Michael Keenan said in­for­ma­tion was be­ing mi­grated to the new Aus­tralian Firearms In­for­ma­tion Net­work.

But gov­ern­ment sources told The Sun­day Times that the real-time reg­is­ter would not be op­er­a­tional un­til late next year.

A spokes­woman for WA Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Chris Daw­son said he sup­ported “a na­tional firearms in­for­ma­tion net­work to en­hance the qual­ity of the data avail­able to law en­force­ment agen­cies”.

Sport Shoot­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia spokes­woman Kate Fan­tinel said putting guns at clubs was im­prac­ti­cal.

“Gun clubs would es­sen­tially be­come a su­per­mar­ket for guns,” she said.

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