Former National Security Minister, Senator Peter Bunting has accused the FLA of routinely denying permits to police personnel based on their home address. He has also described the reported act as ‘elitist’.
Bunting levelled the criticism at the FLA on Thursday while making his contribution to the debate on the Firearms (Prohibition, Restriction and Regulation) Act in the Senate. It was approved by the House of Representatives on September 7.
According to Bunting, who is also Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, the police were being denied a gun licence because of their “wrong address”, a situation which he said was putting their lives at risk.
He told the Senate that the FLA was denying hundreds, if not thousands of police personnel gun permits after it claimed they had not established a need to be armed. The former security minister said following past discussions which involved the Police Federation, he was of the view that the policy had been abandoned.
“But the truth is that there continues to be what I would describe as a kind of elitism in invalidating persons who apply for firearms,” Bunting stated.
He mentioned the case of a policeman with five years of service who applied for a gun licence. Bunting noted that like most of the young officers in the Force, this policeman serves in one of the operational units in one of the toughest police divisions.
“They’re the ones who the Minister (of National Security, Dr Horace Chang) is saying they must shoot to kill,” Bunting declared.
He said that after applying, the policeman received a letter from the FLA this month, denying his application. The letter read in part that “Applicant’s area of residence is of concern and is likely to pose a greater risk to the applicant if a firearm is introduced”.
This prompted Bunting to state that “This is a police officer with a wrong address”.
Continuing, he said: “This is a police officer that we’re asking to face down criminals on a daily basis. This is a police officer who, if he doesn’t get a keep-and-care firearm, has to return to his home, in a tough community without a firearm because he’s denied on the basis of his residence”.
“This quite frankly is a disgrace. It is shameful,” Bunting said.