NT Police are set to receive strengthened powers with new firearm controls set to be passed in Parliament this week.
But the move has already been criticised by the Shooters Union Australia which claims giving the NT Police Commissioner the power to unilaterally reclassify sporting firearms on a whim is literally the stuff of a police state.
Already one .22 rifle, owned by a Territorian, has been re-classified in a more restricted category meaning he may now have to sell it.
Shooters union president Graham Park slammed the recategorisation, which he said was carried out without consultation or reference and caught shooters and their representative organisations alike offguard.
The Firearm Amendment Bill 2019 was recently examined through the Parliament's Economic Policy Scrutiny Committee - will see the introduction of Firearm Prohibition Orders (FPOs), and increased maximum penalties for a range of firearm offences.
A FPO scheme would prohibit certain individuals - based on police intelligence, prior criminal history, behaviour or known associates - from possessing or being in the company of someone who is possessing a firearm and other firearm related items for 10 years.
It will allow for police to search persons, premises or possessions without a warrant, to ensure that an individual subject to an FPO is compliant with their order.
The legislation has been successfully used in other states to effectively disrupt and dismantle criminal organisations, including outlaw motorcycle gangs.
Police Minister Nicole Manison said the Government was giving our police stronger powers to fight firearm violence and crime.
"This legislation - which will bring the Territory in line with laws in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania - will make it harder for the wrong people to obtain firearms, and will see those that do, face harsher penalties.
"This has helped tackle crime interstate and will work here too."
Shotters Union president Mr Park said then-Acting Police Commissioner Michael Murphy declared in the NT Government Gazette earlier this month that "linear repeating firearms with assisted ejection" were reclassified from categories A and B (available to all licensed shooters) to categories C and D (heavily restricted and essentially banned, in the latter case).
Mr Park said the first anyone heard of the recategorisation was when an Territorian shooter received a letter in the mail a few weeks ago advising him that his Savage A22R .22 rifle had been reclassified into a more restricted category as a result of a declaration by Acting Commissioner Murphy, and he would effectively have to dispose of the rifle as a result.
"We wrote to Acting Commissioner Murphy and Ms Manison more than a fortnight ago requesting an explanation of this unilateral recategorisation and nothing has been forthcoming," Mr Park said.
"It's the sort of thing you expect to hear about happening in the Soviet Union or East Germany during the Cold War, not the Northern Territory in 2019.
"Needless to say, we and our members are not at all happy and want the declaration nullified immediately."
Mr Park said while he was of the understanding the declaration referred to lever-release firearms, the wording was unclear and the potential was there for deliberate misuse or over-reach.
"No-one in the Australian shooting community had ever heard of the term 'linear repeating firearm with assisted ejection' before and it is so vague as to potentially encompass most manually operated repeating firearms," he said.
"And that's without getting into the fact these lever-release guns pose no public safety risk, are Category A and B in literally every other jurisdiction in Australia, and have never been used in a crime."
Mr Park said the situation was extremely concerning and had very serious implications for all Territorians - even those who were not firearms users.
"The police being able to decide laws on their own is a clear breach of the fundamental principle of the separation of powers," he said.
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