The following guest post on Western Australia’s gun ownership policy was provided by C. Dalgarno.
In order to purchase a semi-automatic pistol, you have to prove that not only do you know how to use and safely store, clean and dismantle the gun (this is your Firearms Awareness Certificate – only available through authorized examiners), but you must also prove that you are a member of a SSAA (Sports Shooters Association of Australia) club and are a regular participant in competition over an extended period of time, as well as continue to maintain your membership and participation in competition.
Then, if you are applying to store the weapon on your home premises, then you must install an approved firearms safe. This needs to be connected to two independent and immovable surfaces (so it needs to be bolted to the floor and a wall, or two walls forming a corner). Furthermore, you must also have a second firearms safe for storing the firing-pin (these MUST be stored separately from the weapon) and a THIRD location to store ammunition. The police then inspect your premises and safes to ensure they meet requirements. You must then provide photographs at the time of attendance for the police to certify and sign off on, to attach to your application.
The next step is the actual application itself. Once lodged, it takes a minimum of 28 days to be approved. Having many friends and family who have applied for additional licenses this year, I can tell you that 28 days is a dream. The realistic time-frame is closer to six months at this point in time due to the attention given to each and every application.
Once the application is approved, you must wait a FURTHER 28 days to “cool-off.” After this, you must notify the police that you wish to continue your purchase and application.
A year later (including 3-6 months for participation / competition, 3-6 months for inspections, applications, etc.) you are granted your license and can complete the purchase of your weapon.
During this time the weapon is stored with the firearm’s dealer. Firearm’s dealers are only able to hold a certain number of weapons on hand at any one time, regardless of whether they are held for customers or for general sale, so having too many weapons on hold creates stock level problems for them. As a result, firearm’s dealers themselves are becoming reluctant to hold weapons, resulting in applications without Firearms Serviceability Certificate, creating a further reason to deny the application for the license.
Once you’ve gone through all of that, you can collect your weapon.
Now the real fun starts – but not in the way you would think.
Once you become a registered firearms owner, you have effectively given the police due reason to inspect your property at any time with no notice to ensure that your weapons are being stored correctly and that your participation in competition / work / etc. is valid. Oh – and don’t forget that every single round of ammunition you purchase must be recorded against your firearms license. This information is supplied by the firearms dealers to the police so that they can see real data on who is purchasing what quantities of what type of ammunition. If your purchasing changes (large increases or decreases, or large irregularities between purchase dates), then the police will pay you a visit.
As a firearm license holder, you are also very carefully looked at in any situation that could lead to violence. Recently, two men I know had a fight. Both men went to the hospital due to injury, and the hospital reported the brawl to the police. The police attended the emergency room, spoke with the men and, while they both admitted they meant no harm to each other and were just full of alcohol and bad manners, the police (upon doing a quick check and finding that one man was a licenced firearm owner) visited the property again to confiscate all weapons and ammunition. The guns were then held by the police for three months to ensure that the men were at peace again prior to returning them.
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