03 Jun No gun for self defence or hunting?
A comparison of the objectives of the 2021 draft and the 2018 version suggests they are closely related, if not identical – and that the three-year-old version may show just how the law could change.
The law currently provides for firearm licenses to be issued in what is, legislatively at least, a simple process. Applicants need to show only that they need a firearm to defend themselves, and that they “cannot reasonably satisfy that need by means other than the possession of a firearm”.
That will do for a license for any handgun that is not fully automatic or a manual-action shotgun. Those who want more firepower, say a semi-automatic shotgun or rifle, need to show that ordinary weapons do not provide the protection they need and must submit “reasonable information to motivate the need for a restricted firearm for self-defense purposes.”
The 2018 draft law (and, presumably, the 2021 version) strikes out that entire section of law so that there are only two possible reasons to license a firearm: hunting, and sport shooting. To avoid any confusion, it specifically says that licenses may not be issued for reasons of self-defense, the protection of property, or the protection of another person.
Hunters and sport shooters would still be able to apply to license a semi-automatic handgun but would have to prove they actually engage in their claimed hobby.
Currently, the law differentiates between “occasional” hunting and sports-shooting enthusiasts, and professionals. There is no requirement for the occasional shooters to be part of an association, or to take part in any events. And once they are licensed, they may explicitly use their guns “for a lawful purpose” – which could include carrying a firearm for self-defense.
The 2018 legislative proposal would change that. Occasional hunters or sport shooters would have to show at least that they have written permission from the owner or occupier of a property where they could practice their hobby, a game farm or shooting range, to do so.
The “lawful purpose” wording would also be scrapped, instead of limiting hunters and sport shooters to using their guns only “where it is safe to use the firearm”. The intention appears to be preventing the use of a hobby handgun for self-defense.