About the Project:

Much of the academic research on firearms in Australia over the last 20 years has focused on the relationship between the increased regulation of firearms (via National Firearms Agreement), and crime rates, suicide rates, and firearms deaths. However, researchers have largely ignored the flip side of enhanced firearms regulation; the regulation of law abiding and legitimate gun users and dealers. While the NFA aims to prevent gun violence in Australia, those who are legitimate and law abiding users of firearms have arguably been the most affected by increased firearms regulation. Law abiding gun users are required to comply with safe storage laws and an array of requirements enacted by state governments to regulate and track licenced firearms and their owners.

Regulation of firearms users can be important for maintaining compliance with the legislation, maintain registries of firearms, and ensuring safe storage procedures are in place. However, these regulations come at both a financial and social cost. The financial cost of licencing and registering firearms and complying with safe storage laws fall to the firearms owners and dealers. Social costs include the increased scrutiny of legitimate firearms users and the tendency to shift the blame for gun violence towards the law abiding firearms community. While gun regulation continues to be an important issue across Australia, current research fails to take into account the views and experiences of legitimate gun users such as sporting shooters, farmers, and gun dealers.

A broader understanding of the views and experiences of these groups (i.e. what they are required to do and how this affects them in terms of cost, livelihood, and freedom to participate in legitimate firearms use) is needed so that any increased regulation does not work against the legitimate aim of the state to reduce gun related violence. This is particularly important given that the law abiding firearms community plays a critical role in maintaining gun registries, safe storage compliance, and have a vested interest in keeping firearms out of the hand of those who are not legitimate and law abiding users.

Gun dealers occupy a critical but dual role for police in obtaining NFA compliance. Dealers are treated both as subjects to be monitored as well as experts that inform registry police of gun sales and acquisitions. Dealers are monitored by registry police who take random samples of their inventory for inspection. This process is designed to ensure that dealers are complying with the NFA and keeping appropriate records. However, dealers are also treated as experts who inform the registry on gun sales and acquisitions. This information populates the national gun registry. While dealers may be a small sample of gun users, they occupy a pivotal role in the success or failure of NFA monitoring and compliance.

Research:

This project will conduct interviews with members of firearms dealers across the country. It will provide increased public awareness of gun dealers as safety advocates rather than more common beliefs that they are wholly critical of safety regulation. This research will provide a narrative of the important experiences of gun dealers in terms of their important role in gun safety as well as the social and financial costs of current regulation. Their story is yet to be told in the current academic research on gun control.

The interviews of firearms dealers across the country will provide insight into how firearms dealers understand the consequences and benefits of compliance with the NFA. Given the important role that dealers play in reporting sales and acquisitions of firearms to the National Firearms Registry, this study will be able to illuminate how that role can be supported to foster a cooperative relationship with law enforcement who enforce the NFA.

Participating in the Research:

Your perceptions and experiences of the way in which the National firearms Agreement has been implement and evolves in Australia is important. Your stories help us to understand the critical role firearms dealers hold in compliance and safety as well as highlight your expertise in the field. We would therefore like to invite any firearms owner or dealer to participate in an interview of approximately 1 hour at a time and location of your choice.

If you would like to be a part of this research, you’re welcome to contact Dr Suzanna Fay (Chief Investigator) by email at s.fay@uq.edu.au or Ms Emma Belgrove (Project Manager) at e.belgrove@uq.edu.au.

Participation is Voluntary:

Participation in this research is voluntary. Should you decide that you do not want to answer any of the questions, you can do so without penalty, judgement, or discriminatory treatment. You participation can be stopped at any time.

Your privacy and the use of confidential Information:

Your privacy is important to us. The information your share in the interview is confidential. All identifying information (name, address, business name etc) are all removed from the data before it is published.

This study has been cleared by the Human Ethics Committee of The University of Queensland in accordance with the national Health and Medical Research Council’s guidelines. If you have any questions about this study, please feel free to contact Dr Suzanna Fay from the School of Social Science by phone on (07)3348 2208 or by email (s.fay@uq.edu.au).

Results of the Project:

A copy of the report will be provided to participants on completion. A list any published papers and reports can be found here: https://researchers.uq.edu.au/researcher/2281

Getting in touch:

If you would like to speak with researchers carrying out this project, please contact Dr Suzanna Fay or Ms Emma Belgrove.

 

Project members

Dr Suzanna Fay

Senior Lecturer & Postgraduate Studies Committee Chair
School of Social Science