White Ribbon and gun control law reform
White Ribbon Australia advocates for compulsory family law firearm checks once proceedings have been lodged in the Family Courts, and further call for a full scale review of gun laws within Australia.
The below is taken from the official campaign run by Gun Control Australia:
Last week two teenagers, Jennifer and Jack Edwards, were shot dead by their father, John Edwards, a 68-year-old Financial Planner. Mr Edwards was able to join St Mary’s Indoor Shooting Centre, he then obtained a firearms licence and permit before legally buying two high-powered firearms, which he used to shoot his children.
Mr Edwards was estranged from his wife Olga Edwards and custody proceedings had commenced in the Family Court.
As the law currently stands, when a person applies for a firearm licence or permit to acquire additional firearms, the spouse of the applicant does not need to be notified or consulted, even when a family law matter has commenced in the courts and there has been previous history of threats and fear.
If the law had required police to notify and consult with Olga Edwards before approving Mr Edwards’ application for a firearm, then his firearm application could have been denied.
Samantha Lee, Director of GCA states, “Current gun laws fail to adequately protect women and children from gun violence because the law requires an AVO to be in place or a charge for a criminal offence before a firearm may be revoked or suspended. By then, it may be too late to save a life.”
“What GCA wants to see happen is a more pro-active approach which gives woman and spouses a voice in the gun licence continuation, application or acquisitions process.”
Gun Control Australia (GCA) is calling for the implementation of robust new family law firearm safety checks to better protect families from gun violence.
The call comes after the recent horrific shooting of two teenagers in West Pennant Hills by their father who legally obtained several firearms including high-powered handguns.
Under the current law, police do not have to notify a spouse when their partner or ex-partner applies for a gun licence or a permit to obtain additional firearms.
GCA is calling on all State and Territory Attorney General’s to support our proposal for family law firearm safety checks.The checks would be compulsory and required to be undertaken once a proceeding has been lodged in the Family Court. The checks would include:
(1) Firearm Licence Review, and
(2) Spousal notification for all new applications for a firearm licence and permits to acquire a firearm application
Firearm Licence Review
The Firearm Licence Review (FLR) would require police to check if any party to the family court proceedings has a gun licence and if so, if there is any concern for the safety for the firearm licence holder, their immediate family or the public. The police would have the power to suspend or revoke a licence or not issue a permit.
Spousal notification would require police to notify the spouse/ partner who is a party to family law custody proceedings when the other party has a gun licence or has made an application for a firearm licence or an application to obtain a permit to acquire a licence. The notification would then allow the spouse/partner to object to the continuation of the licence or the application on the grounds of concerns for personal safety to himself, herself or others.
Full Scale Review
We also call for the commonwealth and state parliaments of Australia to initiate a full-scale review of our nation’s gun laws, which have been steadily weakened after decades of pressure by an NRA style gun lobby here in Australia.
We need your support to change our gun laws to better protect families from gun violence.
This policy statement represents the organisational position of White Ribbon Australia. It does not represent the individual opinions and views of our stakeholders, including, but not limited to, our Ambassadors, Advocates, Partners and staff members.