WA Government to restrict number of licenced firearms

WA has licenced shooters in its sights

The Western Australian Government is set to release a ‘Firearms Bill Consultation Paper for public review and comment tomorrow’ (17/10/2023)

There are a number of changes on the table; including the most controversial of them all.

Imposing a limit to the number of firearms a law abiding licenced firearm owner can have.

Below is a quick look at what we know so far and some of the impacts we can see on the horizon for shooters in Western Australia.

Guns by the numbers

Licenced firearms owners with particular licences will be limited to ten (10), this includes primary producers and firearm club members (competition shooters).

Recreational shooters on the other hand are getting a proposed limit of just five (5) licenced firearms.

If you’re lucky enough to be a competitive shooter at a state, national or international level you can apply for additional firearms.

But what if each discipline requires a different set up and calibre that allows you to reach your competitive sporting potential?

With these limited numbers we’re not sure how you’ll get to those levels of competition within the range of disciplines available as a shooter moving into the sport.

We’re sure that they’ll be addressing this issue in depth, they surely don’t intend to cripple the growth of these internationally renowned sporting disciplines.

Even though we’ve checked, we still don’t trust you

Apparently, restricting licenced persons who have been identified as ‘fit and proper’ by the Police will help with ‘community safety’.

Not sure how they got to that conclusion, but the new proposed laws (according to the Western Australian Labor Government) were created through extensive consultation with firearms owners, peak bodies, and safety advocates but some say otherwise.

Now they’re asking for public review and comment.

There are some interesting notes that need further clarification but the point being pushed is that law abiding licenced firearm owners just don’t need so many guns.

The confusing point: How do they decide how many guns are safe?

As noted by the spokesperson for the WA Firearms Community Alliance, the proposed limits are arbitrary with no evidence to suggest they have any meaning.

Put more succinctly by Paul Fitzgerald on ABC radio: 

“Why is nine (9) not dangerous? Why is eleven(11) dangerous?”

Why? Indeed…

Proposed New Licence Types

The licence categories will be:

  • Primary producer
  • Individual
  • Trade
  • Business
  • Club
  • Ranges
  • Collector
  • Government

Without the actual proposal we can only speculate on the restrictions that will be put in place for each of these new categories.

There has been some support noted by farmers, particularly with the WA Farmers CEO advising that farmers “can live with ten (10)”

But even here the arbitrary numbers proposed prompts confusion “I find it a bit strange that you’d put a cap on firearms, whether it’s one or five or 10 or 20”

It’s clear from the commentary provided that even those in begrudging support for these measures can see that “they’ve gone after the recreational sector and capping their numbers”.

As noted above, the individual licence (recreational) will be limited to five (5) licenced firearms.

Not quite sure how businesses, clubs, ranges and collectors will fare yet, but we’re guessing at least one on the list will be unlimited in the number of firearms allowed (hint – it starts with a G).  

Some interesting parts

The brief note on the modernisation of the licencing process is one of the points that may actually be of benefit.

It obviously depends on how, and if, it actually gets implemented.

An online portal, digital licences and an upgraded IT system might provide benefits to both firearm owners as well as real-time access to police on the front line.

Just like a driver licence or vehicle registration provides real-time information in this electronic age, we can see the benefit of bringing firearm licensing and ownership into this century.

Especially in the backwards jurisdiction that is Western Australia where they are still working off paper licences and individual firearm registrations. Yes. Paper. 

Storage requirements are apparently another part of this proposal, to “reduce the likelihood of thefts” according to the WA Government media statement.

Not sure yet how they propose to amend the current requirements for the storage of licenced firearms, but as per the media statement, they will be “more onerous controls”.

It’s obvious to all responsible licenced firearms owners that the safe storage of your firearms is an important aspect of owning firearms.

The storage security requirements are already addressed in the WA Firearms Regulations 1974 and WA Dangerous Goods Safety Act 2004.

Both this regulation and act are fairly comprehensive so it will be interesting to see what more the WA Government will propose to add to these current safety measures. 

In addition to any changes proposed there will probably be logistical issues for its enforcement, within whatever the proposed timeframe will be.

Further to this, depending on the new requirements, there may also be possible financial stress placed on current licenced firearms owners to comply with these “more onerous controls”.

Unusual Justifications

Other than a brief comment from the Police Commissioner Col Blanch, the issue of illicit firearms isn’t really addressed.

“illicit firearms pose a significant risk to the safety of the community and to my officers, especially when in the hands of serious and organised crime groups.” 

“We know that licensed firearms can quickly become illicit firearms and be traded in the underworld.”

Law abiding licenced firearms owners aren’t the problem here, the criminals are.

Why then does it seem like, from this media release, that they are being targeted instead of the “crime groups” that trade in illicit firearms.

We already have stringent storage requirements for the safekeeping of licenced firearms and, if there are some that are stolen and traded, why isn’t the onus on police rather than law abiding citizens?

We can’t see how restrictions being proposed on licenced firearms owners, particularly on the number of firearms allowed, will stop the import, sale and trade of illegal firearms.

According to comments attributed to Premier Roger Cook:

“There have been a number of high-profile gun incidents during recent years.”

“These examples of the unlawful use of firearms highlight the need for this important reform”

Again, why is the unlawful use of firearms being attributed to ‘fit and proper’ licenced firearm owners?

By penalising these licenced firearms owners, and restricting the number of guns available to them, it doesn’t seem that the “unlawful use of firearms” will be affected.


Now, obviously, a modernised system will provide police with real-time information, however you can’t tar and feather the whole population of law-abiding citizens because of some bad apples; and there will always be “bad apples” or people who cross the line in any society.

We look forward to seeing the actual proposal, but from this initial release of information we can only come to one conclusion: 

The Western Australian Government needs to be seen as doing ‘something’ about illegal firearms and criminals. 

Instead of targeting those lawless members of the population the law-abiding licenced firearms owners, who are upstanding members of society and actually obey the laws of the land, are in their sights.

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