There are several disputes and we will post information about each of these on this website to keep our clients and interested people informed of the latest facts.
This Blog was written by Jonlys Beaton.
Jonlys Beaton is one of the Directors of Beaton Firearms.
This article follows on from a previous Blog made by Zaine Beaton, titled “Police Licensing – Long Range Shooting”. Similar terms used to identify the same issue is “Extreme Long Range” and “Very Powerful” Firearms.
DISPUTE No 1. “Long Range” Firearms
W.A. Police Firearms Licensing Services (FLS ) continue to find spurious reasons to deny applications to license some firearms in certain calibers and have sent letters to licensed shooters who already have these firearms threatening to revoke these licenses if they do not provide information on experience of long-range shooting. They have not defined “adequate experience”.
In the case of applicants wishing to license extended long-range rifles and have been denied, the maximum caliber is not defined; the range is not defined; the end use is not defined; the requirements for licensing are not defined.
It appears long range shooting is ok, extended long range is not.
According to Brian Litz (marksman, rocket scientist (YES!), and ballistics guru of Applied Ballistics), there is no clear definition of where long-range shooting begins. The thought is once you are adjusting your zero to hit a target due to gravity drop and wind deflection you are shooting long range. An example is making adjustments to a .308 for distances further than 250 meters.
Extended long-range shooting is more technical. To shoot a target at 1,200 metres or further, a shooter needs to make adjustments for temperature, barometric pressure, (density altitude,) uphill or downhill, rotation of the earth (Coriolis effect) etc.
We at Beaton Firearms run a training course that teaches shooters how to make these adjustments in a minimum 2-day course. All our staff have completed this course and are fully competent. This course is the premium course run anywhere in Australia at present. It is conducted safely on property owned by Beaton Firearms, and Precision Shooting owns the intellectual property of the course.
W.A. Firearms Licensing Services (FLS) have refused the licensing of firearms such as a .375 Cheytac on the grounds they don’t think the licensees, some of whom have completed our training course, have enough skill or experience to shoot extended long range. When asked what “suitable skill or experience” means, FLS cannot give an explanation. Numerous attempts have been made to clarify the requirements for applicants of rifles that FLS deem “long range”, yet these public servants choose to not work with us to end this stalemate.
New applicants for firearms chambered in calibers that Firearms Licensing Services deem “Long Range” are all refused – regardless of whether the applicant has a genuine reason; regardless of whether the applicant has a genuine need; regardless of the applicant’s history or experience or skill in shooting. Firearms Licensing Services are refusing to rule objectively on these applications, but rather forcing every applicant to challenge Firearms Licensing Service’s decision in the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT), at extra time and cost to the license applicant. Western Australia already has the most expensive firearm license application fee in the country – for the extra money it costs us it is disappointing that we receive such poor service. Instead, in a cowardly move that absolves them of any responsibility, Police Licensing Services are using the decisions of the SAT to make policy decisions for them – at the expense of Western Australian shooters. It is not the job of the SAT to make Police Policy decisions.
Legislation exists to clarify the boundaries of what law-abiding citizens can do and what they can’t do. Black and white. Where a question arises as to the interpretation of the legislation (the Grey area) the Police Commissioner has the power to interpret the legislation in the spirit in which it was written. It is their task to eliminate grey areas and define the boundaries. This task is delegated to the officers in Firearms Licensing Services.
The only piece of legislation that has existed since 1974 that puts an upper limit on licensable firearm calibers is regulation 26 –
“Table of prohibited firearms and ammunition
ammunition the missile from which has a calibre of 20 mm or more “
In the 40 years that the regulations have existed there has never been a serious proposal to restrict long range rifles being licensed – Not one mention during the 1997 buy back; The Law Reform Commission didn’t receive a single submission during their recent review of the Firearms Act calling for their prohibition. Gun Control Australia don’t even mention Long Range Rifles on their website. The Western Australian Firearm Licensing Services are pursuing an issue that the most fanatical anti-gun organization in Australia doesn’t think is worth a mention. Grey area has been created by FLS where none existed.
Many Western Australian firearm license holders have firearms chambered in calibers that Police Licensing Services now deem “Long Range”. A large percentage of those lawful license holders have received letters from Firearms Licensing Services demanding they provide additional information why they should be allowed to keep their firearms and why Firearm Licensing Services should not seize their firearms. These license holders made application for their firearms in good faith – they held back no information in their applications and met every demand through the onerous licensing process we are subject to in Western Australia. Yet they stand to lose tens of thousands of dollars if they can’t meet retrospective changes in policy that Firearm Licensing Services won’t share. Firearm Licensing Services haven’t moved the goal posts – they’ve removed them. And even though they’re supposed to be the umpires, they’re sitting on the bench waiting for someone to make the decision for them.
Beaton Firearms would simply request Firearms Licensing Services to do their job; it is not their job to invent legislation; it is not their job to change existing legislation; it is not their job to create grey areas where there has never been a question of public safety. It is their job to make concise policy regarding firearm legislation and make their reasons public – if PLS are choosing to not take this responsibility seriously it should be taken from them.
- What is the largest caliber firearm that I can license to avoid this policy change by FLS?
- 338 Lapua seems to be the starting point for FLS – anything 338 Lapua and larger is being targeted at the moment. Some large caliber firearms seem to be exempt though – 375 Ruger for example. But as there is no written policy, anything could be deemed a “long range” caliber.
- How would I get a rifle for long range shooting licensed in Western Australia?
- FLS will knock back your license application with little, if any, consideration. We recommend contacting a lawyer familiar with the Firearms Act to represent you and file an application for your case to be heard in the SAT. You will need to cover your own costs for the application and representation, and it is unusual for costs to we awarded to the winner. However, there are some instances where costs are awarded, and we recommend visiting the SAT website for more information;
- What if I already have a rifle licensed that Firearms Licensing Services deem “Long range”?
- You should have received a letter from Firearms Licensing Services requesting you to provide more information as to why you should be allowed to keep the firearm on your license. Respond to this letter with a detailed description of what firearm you have; all the accessories you have that support your pursuit of long-range shooting; your experience or training in long range shooting and why you need that particular firearm for your chosen sport. No one that we know of have had their firearms seized yet. Please let us know if you receive any such correspondence from FLS.
Simultaneously, talk to your local politician and express your concern that the Police Minster, Michelle Roberts, is allowing this happen. It’s not good enough for them to claim this is an “Operational Matter”. Western Australia is not a Police State.
Please contact Beaton Firearms if you have any questions relating to Long Range Shooting or Police interpretation of the firearms Act – we will try and update this article as more information becomes available.
Director of Beaton Firearms