The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party has taken aim at the National Firearms Agreement, labelling it a waste of money which has not produced tangible outcomes.
Submissions made to the House of Assembly inquiry into proposed firearm regulatory changes have been made public and the vast majority have expressed concern and opposition to any change.
Several talked about the loss of friends or a colleague as a result of the Port Arthur Massacre or being present at the Royal Hobart Hospital to deal with the subsequent horror.
General practitioners and medical professionals detailed what it was like to treat gunshot injuries and expressed fear that suicide rates could rise following changes. Those with farming properties were split on opinions.
Some expressed belief the NFA had not affected their ability to control pest with others disagreed.
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party spokesman Carlo DiFalco said the NFA had been a waste of money and police resources.
“After 20-plus years under the National Firearms Agreement, it is now time for all stakeholders to acknowledge the fact that the NFA has not saved one life or positively contributed anything tangible in relation to public safety,”
“We did not have a firearm problem, this is not Hollywood. Constant demonisation of honest, men and women must stop.
“The NFA is an indulgence that the taxpayer can no longer afford.”
Children and Young People interim commissioner David Clements said there had been a rapid decline in firearm deaths in the years after the NFA was ratified.
He said it appeared Tasmanian was already non-compliant with some elements of the NFA and reform would move the state even further from the agreement's terms.
Mr Clements acknowledged the Australian Medication Association considered firearm possession in communities were a public health issue and access to dangerous weapons a public health concern.
Former Attorney-General and Justice Minister in the Rundle Government, Ron Cornish, said he was against amendments and particularly voiced strong objection to the Tasmanian Firearm Owners Council as members would be paid, and therefore, have a vested interest.
“Any member of the TFOC who did not submit to the whims and demands of the stakeholder bodies would be quickly replaced,” he said.
Mr Cornish said he was concerned upper house members, who predominately represented rural electorates, would bow to pressure placed upon them by electors.
He said extended licence periods of up to 10 years for Category A and B weapons and two years for a Category C weapons was a clear contravention of the NFA.
Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association’s Nick Steel said calls from the organisation for calm and rational discussion since proposed firearm regulation changes were made public earlier this year had “fallen on deaf ears”.
“The rhetoric from many quarters on this topic has highlighted a significant and broad lack of understanding of the processes and regulations that already provide exceptional protection to the community,” he said.
Mr Steel said there needed to be changes to a regulation by which a firearm owner needed to reapply for their licence instead of having it renewed.
“By instigating a renewal process for licences, instead of having to do a new application, there would be a clear improvement to the current administrative burden.”
Under the NFA, a licence cannot be issued for a period longer than five years but the proposed changes would see Category A and B licences extended to 10 years.
Mr Steel said this was the case in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
“The suggestion and media comments that the NFA is strictly adhered to by all participants is demonstrably false,” he said.
“The TFGA has not and does not support breaches of the NFA where there is consistency across the country, however, there are recognised areas where the NFA can and should be improved.” Tasmanian general practitioner Clare Smith said there would inevitably be more guns within the community as a result of any changes and held concerns the state’s suicide rate would rise and more brutal domestic violence incidents.
”Domestic violence is a massive scourge in our nation, and the presence of a gun in the house is a powerful controller,” she said.
“I have had a mother and her baby who were my patients shot dead by her violent partner and heard too many stories of other terrorised women and children, often told many years later.”
Arms Collectors Guild of Tasmania secretary Andrew Harvey said the organisation recognised public safety as a guiding principle in assessing any regulatory change but believed improvements to law needed to be made.
“Licenced firearm owners are assessed to be a fit and proper person, approved for the appropriate category and assessed to have a need and reason to possess a firearm, they should be allowed to go about their activities with the minimum intrusion.”