My Daily Advertiser Op Ed column for Tuesday 5 June 2018

by ray goodlass

Sneaky moves on new semi-automatic firearms

Yet another push to import a new ‘rapid-fire’ shotgun into Australia is appropriately sparking concerns, reported ABC news. The gun in question is the Verney-Carron Veloce, a French-made shotgun with a new fast fire and reload mechanism.

It is not available in Australia yet but if Queensland gun importer Rick Casagrande gets his way, it soon will be.

His battle to bring the weapon into the country is now in the Federal Court. When the Australian Federal Police inspected the gun they listed it in a special schedule of prohibited items, banned from importation into Australia.

Mr Casagrande believes the AFP got it wrong, that the Veloce is a typical lever-action shotgun and should be classified as a category B firearm, one of the two least-restrictive categories.

Gun control advocates quite rightly disagree. They say the Veloce is a dangerous new style of “rapid-fire” gun.

Gun Control Australia chair Samantha Lee says it fires faster than typical category A and B lever or bolt-action firearms.

“With this particular firearm the concern is the rapid-fire mechanism. The ability for cartridges to be loaded at a very quick capacity,” she said.

“It’s been described as like a semi-automatic firearm. It’s quite a different mechanism to what’s been imported into Australia before”.

New South Wales Greens MP and gun control advocate David Shoebridge said the guns potentially needed their own unique category.

“This is effectively a new category of weapon, a new dangerous category that a number of firearms experts have described as a semi-semi-automatic weapon, with a high rate of fire. It doesn’t fit neatly into any of our current categories.”

Mr Shoebridge said the Verney-Carron Speedline and Veloce firearms are a step up from the controversial Adler lever-action gun.

“This weapon though has an even more rapid rate of fire action. It’s designed for an extremely rapid cycling through of shot after shot, after shot, after shot.”

Mr Shoebridge has already sent correspondence to the NSW Police Minister urging rapid action by him to seek to reclassify the rifle that’s already in the country, and to ensure that he makes it known that he supports the banning of the importation of this weapon.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs said the Commonwealth Government is responsible for matters relating to the import and export of firearms, while the state and territory governments have responsibility for all matters relating to possession, licensing and use of firearms.

The statement said the classification of the Verney-Carron Speedline rifle is a matter for each state and territory, and because judgement is reserved in the judicial review regarding the classification of the Verney-Carron Veloce shotgun, it would not be appropriate to comment on the matter before court.

Greens federal gun control spokesperson, Senator Lee Rhiannon, said, “The Turnbull government must uphold the intent of the National Firearm Agreement to reduce gun violence by restricting semi-automatic weapons.

Indeed, these are dangerous weapons that should not become readily available to sporting and recreational shooters under the category B classification that is favoured by the firearm lobby.

This is set to become a test for the Prime Minister. Does he have the courage to stare down the firearm lobby and uphold the National Firearm Agreement or will he turn his back on public safety?