The government’s refusal to support a proposed Greens’ amendment to require spousal notification of gun applications is a missed opportunity to harmonise the state’s gun control and family violence laws, Greens Leader and Police and Emergency Services spokesperson Kim Booth MP said today.
“It is very disappointing that this opportunity was not taken today, and also disappointing that there was no good reason provided by the Minister for voting down the Greens’ amendment,” Mr Booth said.
“Rejecting our proposal to require spouses or domestic partners to be notified when a gun application is submitted on the spurious grounds it would be impractical to implement as there are too many applications each year is a nonsensical excuse, given the Government’s own Bill is inserting a provision providing for the Commissioner to require a mental and psychological report of applicants.”
“The Greens’ amendment merely requires a domestic partner, or ex-partner, to be informed as one of those checks and balances for consideration during the processing of an application. It did not seek to provide a spouse with automatic power of veto.”
“This measure is in place in Canada, and is also currently under consideration by the UK and some states in the US which are tackling the unacceptable rates of firearm misuse in domestic violence situations.”
“It was also extraordinary to hear the Minister resorting to lame excuses that currently the statistics do not warrant this measure. What is the necessary statistical increase then? 1 percent each year, or 10 percent, or higher increase of firearms used against wives, husbands, children before we move to insert this additional check?”
“Some areas of firearm misuse in domestic violence situations can also remain statistically invisible. Many organisations working at the coal face refer to situations where the presence of a firearm in the house has been used to threaten and intimidate can cause serious psychological damage even without a shot being fired, and can therefore remain statistically invisible.”
“The threat of the misuse of a firearm by a domestic partner, or ex- partner either against themselves, children or other family members, or pets, currently locks too many Tasmanians into a frozen state of terror.”
“This initiative is about being proactive and ensuring that our statistics do not reflect an increase in the misuse of firearms in family violence situations.”
“Requiring Tasmanian wives, girlfriends, boyfriends and husbands to be notified when their partner applies for a firearms licence is an important investment in strengthening the current gun laws screening processes, while also doing something tangible to forward the state’s laudable and necessary campaign to stamp out family violence.”
“Failing to support the Greens’ proposed amendment while debating the Firearms Amendment Bill is a wasted opportunity,” Mr Booth said.
Debate on Firearms Amendment Bill is continuing this afternoon, and the Greens will be seeking further amendment including the banning of semi-automatic handguns.
Text of Greens’ proposed amendment to the Firearms (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2015 (voted down by the Liberals and Labor):
Clause No.17 (Section 29B inserted)
Moved by Kim Booth MP
Clause 17 new section 29B is amended by deleting subsection 29B (1) (a) and inserting the following:
29 B (1) (a) make an inquiry or conduct an investigation into the applicant or the application including –
(i) whether the applicant is in a current family relationship within the meaning of the Family Violence Act 2004, at the time of the application, and if so that the spouse or intimate partner is advised of the applicant’s application; and
(ii) any spouse and intimate partner from a previous family relationship within the meaning of the Family Violence Act 2004 the applicant has lived with at any time during the previous two calendar years prior the application, but is no longer living with, have been advised of the applicant’s application; and
(iii) whether the applicant has a history of behaviour that includes violence or threatened or attempted violence on the part of the person against any person; and
(iv) consideration of any information arising from (1) (a) (i), (1) (a) (ii), and (1) (a) (iii).