Some readers might be aware of a group calling itself the "National Shooting Council" (NSC) and claims it is making that organisations (including ADA) have "declined offers of unity" on the issue of gun shop closures.
ADA (and many others) have been actively advocating on this issue from the outset. We have been doing so on clearly stated points of principle.
We have, politely, declined a request for financial support from NSC for the simple reasons that they were unable to tell us who they actually are and what advice they were relying on. The chronology of the "offer" is outlined below. In the interests of transparency we have published all of the NSC's emails and all of our responses - we have only redacted the names of other parties who were named by the NSC and the NSC Secretary's private telephone number.
We received an email from NSC on Monday 27 April at 7.14am
The email ostensibly asks for support in a matter which is due to be heard by Victoria’s Firearms Appeals Committee (FAC).
The FAC is not a court, it has a very limited scope, essentially it can review a decision by the Chief Commissioner of Police to refuse an application for a firearm licence, impose conditions on a licence or refuse a permit to acquire. It is not clear to us what standing an association has to request a review of decisions by the FAC or to call witnesses under subpoena.
We replied on Tueday 28 April at 2.51pm
In our reply we asked reasonable questions in order to inform a proper response to the request.
Given the political, financial and reputation implications it would not be prudent to do any less.
We wanted to know who we were being asked to support and what grounds they had for what they were doing.
Specifically, our questions related to:
- Who is actually on the executive of this group
- A person purporting to be a spokesperson for the group making disparaging comments about our colleagues related to this issue
- The specifics of any advice received on this matter
ADA takes advocacy very seriously. We have political strategists on retainer and a network of skilled and experienced advisers across Australia.
On Tuesday 28 April at 7.09pm we received a reply from NSC.
The reply went into historic issues relating to another group, misrepresented ADA’s position and, most importantly, failed to answer any of our questions.
On Wednesday 29 April at 9.08am we replied, again, still attempting to get answers to the reasonable questions we had asked in order to properly consider NSC’s request.
On Friday 1 May at 5.43pm, having received no response, we replied again to NSC, noting that the deadline it had imposed in its initial email had passed, that the reasonable information we requested had not been forthcoming and, consequently, we were not in a position to offer support at this stage.
On Friday 1 May at 8.12pm we received this response from NSC.
Interestingly it concedes that “some” of what we were asking for was relevant to the initial request. If that's the case, and the request was sincere, it's difficult to see why it was not provided.
We requested details of the FAC hearing in the name of transparency – we cannot see why this would be withheld. We have subsequently contacted the FAC directly requesting details to enable our attendance.
We have no real interest in Mr Zabrdac beyond questions about Facebook comments. To his credit he has contacted us and talked through the issues.
We saw no need to reply to this email.
On Monday 4 May an article was posted on the NSC’s Facebook Page, accompanied by the caption “Well, we did make the offer”.
The article does not publish either the text of the initial NSC “offer”, or, our responses as foreshadowed in NSC’s initial email of 27 April “so we intend to publish this offer to you and responses received”.
The article does, in our view, misrepresent ADA’s position - we don't believe that any reasonable person reading the email exchange could conclude otherwise.
This whole episode has been a waste of our time, a distraction from the real issues and a source of unnecessary division.
If the NSC had no intention of providing the basic information required to make an informed decision it should have just left us out of its nonsense. We won’t speculate on the NSC’s motives, we’ll leave that for others.
We have outlined the emails here in the name of transparency. We will report back from the NSC appearance before the FAC if indeed it happens and we haven't got anything better to do that day.