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COLFO plans court action over ammo ban

The Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO) is recommending members hold on to potentially illegal shotgun shells containing steel shot until the law banning certain types of ammunition is clarified.

COLFO wrote to the Minister of Police on Wednesday last week, giving Stuart Nash 10 days to suspend the ban or it would apply to the court for a Judicial Review.

A range of ammunition was banned by the Government on October 1, without compensation. Legal advice provided to COLFO is that a vague description in the ban on “steel” ammunition means shotgun cartridges used by duck shooters may now be prohibited.

“It’s a ridiculous situation that seemingly criminalises thousands of unwitting duck shooters,” says COLFO spokesperson Nicole McKee.

“Most duck shooters have converted to steel shot from lead, which was banned to protect waterways and wetlands from lead pollution. The ammunition they are using is now technically illegal under the new law because steel projectiles enable ‘better penetration’.

“We have notified the Minister of Police that we may seek a Judicial Review to sort out this anomaly, among several others that have crept in as a result of a rushed drafting. Until then, we’re telling our members to hold on to shotgun shells containing steel shot.”

McKee said COLFO also wanted the Minister to re-examine the ban on tracer ammunition, banned because Government advisers saw no “civilian” uses for it.

“That’s another red herring. People get this ammunition because the Army disposes of it in large quantities. It is used as practice rounds by sports shooters in safe environments or by people who reload their own ammunition. We told the Government this.

“Tracers are no more dangerous than any other non-prohibited ammunition of similar calibre and ballistics.”

COLFO’s biggest concern is that firearms owners are expected to hand over banned ammunition without any compensation.

“People act in response to incentives – and none have been offered to them over ammunition,” says McKee.

“We wouldn’t be surprised if people opt to hang on to these types of rounds, even though they’re now illegal. It’s unnecessarily and unfairly criminalising thousands of law-abiding people.”

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