It’s Easter weekend and instead of being up the bush many of us are safe at home fine tuning our gear.
The Government response to the Coronavirus situation has had a profound effect on hunting and deer management – as it has had across our society.
For the hunting world there are two separate, but related elements to this.
One is the restrictions on hunting and access as a part of a partial lockdown and the other is the restriction of trade being imposed on our licensed firearm dealers in a number of jurisdictions.
ADA is primarily a hunting focused organisation, but have been active, along with our colleagues, on this gun shop closure issue for three core reasons.
The first is that it hurts the people in the deer world who we rely on, not only for our gear and equipment, but also for expert advice, local knowledge and as a real social hub for our community. Most of our gun shops are small family businesses and they already bare more than their fair share of the regulatory burden for government. They’re our friends and our members, and we need them to come out the other side of this.
The second is that it sets such a horrible precedent. Government’s allowing unelected bureaucrats to close down an entire industry, with no clear rationale, no consultation and completely separate to the health advice that is guiding the rest of the government response to this situation is something which simply cannot go unchallenged.
The third is that it has done significant damage to the confidence that firearm owners have in their regulator. When we take out a firearms licence we voluntarily submit ourselves to stringent and intrusive regulation – this is a social contract we make in return for the privilege of owning and keeping firearms. This only works if we have a strong regulator, and essential to having a strong regulator is trust. Not only by taking this action, but by the regulator reducing firearm licencing to mere jingles, and slurring our collective reputations on the way through, that trust has been damaged significantly.
Governments will make mistakes in this environment, they’re as new to this as the rest of us are. What’s most important is how they go about recognising and rectitying those mistakes.
We made these points to the relevant Ministers offices within hours of these decisions being announced.
We also contacted to all of the key shooting advocacy groups to inform them of what we had said and why had said it.
On the hunting side we were proactive in ensuring that hunting wasn’t singled out – many of you might have witnessed some pretty disgusting opportunism from anti-hunting MP’s trying to use the COVID-19 situation to close game seasons in Victoria – again, this would have set a horrible precedent and we are encouraged that, whilst hunting is ultimately being restricted, it is being treated the same way as other active outdoor pursuits like fishing and golf.
We are continuing to work closely and productively with the key decision makers to ensure that these restrictions are lifted as soon as they can be.
A few days ago, we launched a survey to gather data on the impacts of restrictions socially, economically and ecologically.
The response so far has been humbling – if you haven’t completed the survey, please click on the link in this post – it takes about three minutes to do and it will help immensely with the recovery of hunting.
We hope that you have a happy, safe and productive Easter.
If you’re in a position to do so please consider jumping online or dropping into one of our great hunting retailers and gun shops and picking up some new gear to use when we’re all back in the field