Weapons Licensing have issued over 2,000 licenses to farmers and pest controllers, allowing them to own and use pistols for animal destruction. Three years ago, after thousands of pistols had been purchased and owned without major incident, a handful of police at Weapons Licensing Branch began a crusade to de-license the farmers and pest controllers. The history of this and the appalling behaviour of bullying farmers to withdraw their renewal applications has been covered extensively (here and includes further links).
Now Weapons Licensing have issued what they probably tell themselves is a helpful new guide (click here) to farmers and pest controllers seeking a license renewal. It showcases their dreadful misunderstanding of the law – favourable to their lopsided anti-farm, anti-gun view of the world.
It begins on page 1 with an ominous quote:
The fact that a licence has been previously issued does not give rise to any legitimate expectation that the licence will be renewed indefinitely and may be rejected with or without any further information.
It includes the following big four furphies.
Furphy #1: “recreational shooting”
It starts by disparaging farmers and pest controllers, talking to them as though they’re some weekend yahoos shooting tin cans instead of carrying out the dangerous and messy task of caring for livestock and crops against the more than 100 million feral pest animals in Queensland. It says:
Further, the use of category H weapons for recreational shooting is specifically prohibited…
Furphy #2: No self-defence
Unbelievably, Weapons Licensing wag their collective finger at farmers, such as Brendan Slattery (ABC News link) who for weeks stalked a wild and dangerous dog on his own property:
Personal protection is not a genuine reason for acquiring, possessing or using a firearm…
If your occupation actually involves dealing with savage feral attacks, then it’s fair to say a firearm could be a reasonable occupational requirement!
Furphy #3: You must spend most of your time on the farm or you’re not a farmer
Weapons Licensing point out that the Weapons Act has a special definition of “primary producer”. However, that special definition has no relevance to establishing whether a person has an occupational requirement for a Category H firearm.
What does the special definition of ‘primary producer’ do?
The special definition of ‘primary producer’ is (from schedule 2 to the Act):
primary producer means a person (not being a person engaged in primary production as an employee on wages or piecework rates) primarily engaged in the occupation of—
(a) dairy farmer; or
(b) wheat, maize, or cereal grower; or
(c) cane grower; or
(d) fruit grower; or
(e) grazier; or
(f) farmer, whether engaged in general or mixed farming, cotton, potato, or vegetable growing, or poultry or pig raising;
and includes a person prescribed by regulation.
If you fit within this special definition, then you can take advantage of section 54 of the Act, which (in very general terms) lets your employees use your firearms on the farm.
The special definition only applies to farmers seeking to use Category D firearms (semi-automatic centrefire rifles): see regulation 33 (here). This special definition seems to have no direct connection to Category H firearms (see regulation 22, which doesn’t include the term “primary producer”).
What doesn’t the special definition do?
Section 11 of the Act tells us a genuine reason for a license includes “an occupational requirement for rural purposes”. There is no requirement in the Weapons Act 1990 that a person spends most of their time on the farm in order to have “an occupational requirement for rural purposes”.
A farmer appears not need to satisfy the special definition, but they do still need to have a genuine reason for a firearm.
It looks like Weapons Licensing have (accidentally or acci-deliberately) confused Categories D and H. Unlike Category D firearms, there seems to be no requirement that a person spend most of their time on the farm in order to have an occupational requirement for Category H firearms.
This is typical of Weapons Licensing bluster. Just like their misleading presentation of the CSIRO animal welfare guides that you’ll also find in their new helpful guide, which have been previously debunked (see here).
We suggest you seek your own legal advice before acting on Weapons Licensing bluster.
Furphy #4: Port Arthur is relevant
The guide actually cites the 1996 Port Arthur massacre on page 5. How is That relevant to farmers in remote areas on huge properties (as farmers with Category H firearms inevitably are) dealing with plagues of feral pests and difficult to access grazing livestock?
We are not talking about tourist sites like Port Arthur. We are not talking about a couple of acres on the outskirts of town. We are talking about difficult terrain and rural livelihoods: not something that you’ll find at Charlotte Street in Brisbane’s CBD where the Weapons Licensing paperwork mill grinds on (but very slowly and not on Wednesdays).