The exclusive online poll ran on Fairfax Agricultural Media this week leading into today’s meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in Canberra where the gun’s importation fate is being determined based on its classification.
Of the 6109 total votes received, 6012 respondents voted ‘no’ and a mere 97 voted ‘yes’, on the question “Should the Adler 110 lever action shotgun be re-classified as a Category D weapon?”
That amounts to 98.41 per cent voting against placing the gun in the toughest classification category and only a miniscule 1.59pc agreeing its access should be tightly limited.
The Adler issue has ignited widespread national debate about gun control measures, amid fears its re-classification from category A to Category D - as part of a review of the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) where consensus of state and territory governments is needed - is heavy-handed and impractical.
Gun enthusiast and NSW Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm has warned the nation’s gun laws are already tough enough and enforcing a stricter classification for lever-action shotguns meant it would limit access to licensed firearms users like feral pest controllers working on government contracts.
Writing for the Australian Financial Review today, he said the import ban “achieves nothing and is not preventing the ownership and use of seven-shot lever-action shotguns”.
“Not that there is anything to fear from seven-shot lever-action shotguns,” he said.
“The presence of two extra rounds in the magazine does not transform it from a safe to a dangerous firearm.
“Neither a mass murder nor a terrorist attack is more likely because of those two extra rounds.”
Nationals leader and Agriculture and Water Resources Minister Barnaby Joyce has backed the rifle being placed in Category B, which is tougher than its current Category A position but still allows the firearm to be used by shooting club members.
His party colleague and Victorian Senator Bridget McKenzie has urged COAG to adopt an evidence based approach to its decision-making rather than emotion, in response to misinformation that demonises legal gun-users.
Senator Leyonhjelm said relatively few firearm owners wanted to own a lever-action shotgun and even fewer cared whether it holds five rounds or seven.
However, he said every one of them knows the implications of “creeping regulation” on their sport.
“They know if it's lever-action shotguns today, it will be something else tomorrow,” he said.
“The Firearms Section in the Attorney-General's Department has had an agenda of incremental restrictions on firearms for over a decade.
“Semi-automatic pistols, pump-action rifles, lever-action shotguns and lever-action rifles are on their list.”
Senator Leyonhjelm has also expressed anger at the Coalition government “welching” on a deal that he struck with them last year to place a sunset clause in the import ban legislation that was implemented in 2015 following the Lindt cafe siege.
The ban was extended, despite a written agreement with Senator Leyonhjelm, with the NFA being incomplete, by Justice Minister Michal Keenan.
Labor’s Clare O’Neil has slammed the Coalition for being divided on its views about the importation ban and is also critical of the deal struck with Senator Leyohnjelm to weaken the NFA.
“Labor has a clear position on gun control: we want stronger gun laws, not weaker ones,” she said ahead of the COAG meeting.
“We have consistently supported protecting John Howard's gun laws and tighter restrictions on the Adler.
“By contrast, under this government we’ve seen a record number of firearms enter the black market, weakening of our gun laws and dodgy deals for votes in the Senate.”