Crime prevention or raising revenue

WARRNAMBOOL’S Garry Sheppard is among the district’s gun enthusiasts who will be affected by changes to the Victorian Firearms Act.


A collector for the past 40 years, Mr Sheppard has had to outlay $250 for a new licence because his collection includes two antique handguns.


“The firearms are already registered in my name on my collector’s licence, but they’re making you get a separate licence for pre-1900 antique handguns,” he said. “It’s just another revenue-raiser.”


Alterations to the state’s firearms storage, registration and licencing requirements came into effect on Saturday but an amnesty has been extended to March 31 next year.


The changes include a requirement for collectors to install an effective alarm system if more than 15 antique handguns, or in any other case more than five firearms, are stored on the premises.
Mr Sheppard’s collection is held in a strongroom equipped with an alarm.


In other changes to the Firearms Act, paintballing enthusiasts without an A-class shooting licence will no longer have to travel interstate for a game.


Regional Firearms Officer Senior Constable Mick Gloury said the news paved the way for younger people to play and expected more ranges to open as a result.


But he said anyone looking to open a range would need a firearm dealer’s licence, which was not simple to get.


Meanwhile, 10 per cent of the region’s 11,500 licensed firearms holders can look forward to a visit from police as part of an audit that started this month.


Senior Constable Gloury said ensuring security was up to scratch would be a focus of the checks.


Incorrectly registered firearms, including those that have been handed down from a relative, will also be targeted.


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