Store guns at clubs
Doctors lead weapons safety push aimed at sporting shooters
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.