The last 6 months since the AGM have been a very busy time for SSAA Sydney. Lots of things have happened and I will touch on a few of them in this report.
As a major achievement I'm pleased to report that we have successfully renegotiated access to the Anzac Rifle Range at Malabar. We have been steadily increasing shooter numbers out there and we currently have the use of the Horseshoe Range every Saturday afternoon from 12:30pm, and the Service Range every second Saturday morning from 9:30 to 11:30 am. We are also working with the NSWRA in order to get the site open and running on Sundays and we hope this will happen early in the new year. As always, volunteers are the life blood of our Association, if you wish to volunteer some time at one of our ranges please get in touch with Pamela Reeves our Executive Officer.
Political lobbying still remains high on our priority list. I have personally met with several members of State and Federal Parliament, ensuring that we are fighting against those who continually attack our rights as law abiding citizens. During the recent debacle over the importation of the Adler shotgun, SSAA Sydney was very proactive and leading the way in stating our case and dispelling complacency and apathy amongst the shooting community. We encouraged activity amongst the shooting community by running a letter writing competition across Australia where the prize was an RCBS Rock Chucker Supreme reloading kit for someone who posted a reply from a Politician, to a representation made by them, on our Facebook page. As with all Political Lobbying it comes down to numbers; and therefore we ask that all members continue to write their Local MP's both State and Federal and remind them we are law abiding citizens and that our vote counts.
Thanks to my local member I attended a notable meeting with the Deputy Premier and Police Minister Troy Grant. Troy being a country boy was able to understand that firearms do have a place in society and felt that no further restriction were needed. This was good to hear, however it is still the opinion of SSAA Sydney that given the good reputation of law abiding shooters in the community, it is time to relax the laws for licensed shooters. I have stressed this in several meetings and have offered to work directly with Governments to develop PROPER policy that ACTUALLY tackles gun crime and illegal firearms. SSAA Sydney would like to see the use of noise suppressors become mainstream as well allowing licensed shooters access to semi-automatic firearms. We are also pushing for a reduction in red tape including the ridiculous requirement for compulsory attendances in NSW - we will keep pushing!
There is however, a new Politician who is hell bent on chastising us, Dr Hugh McDermott, Member for Prospect. Dr McDermott has not only jumped into bed with Gun Control Australia, but he has also been proactive in demonising law abiding shooters by trying to draw parallels between gun ownership and gun crime in Western Sydney. Dr McDermott has called for a gun buy-back as well as the requirement for firearms to be stored in a central repository. In an attempt to create fear and unrest he appeared in front of the Lindt Cafe in Sydney as part of his quest. We met with Dr McDermott in the hope that we could change his mind that it was the criminals and not us that needed targeting, and we thought that we had got through to him, until he took part in organising a failed rally with Gun Control Australia in the Sydney CBD.
We have reminded Dr McDermott that in his own seat there are in excess of 4000 firearms license holders, of which 2093 are SSAA members. It is interesting to note at this point that Dr McDermott holds this seat on a margin of just over 2900 votes. We need to ensure that Politicians like Dr McDermott are not re-elected. I ask you all to write to Dr McDermott and tell him that his bigoted attitude towards law abiding citizens is not acceptable. Dr McDermott can be contacted by the following:
Dr Hugh McDermott, Member for Prospect
2/679 The Horsley Drive, SMITHFIELD NSW 2164
P (02) 9756 4766
We are still looking for sites to build new ranges and this remains a high priority for us. When I became President, I announced that this would be a major focus and it still is. What is and remains the struggle is finding land and/or buildings in the Greater Sydney area suitable for our needs, not to mention the regulations for shooting ranges. The cost of Sydney real estate doesn't help either! We have plans in place to keep this moving forward and we keep looking for suitable sites. In the last 6 months, I have explored two potential sites, one of which is still under investigation. We are focused on achieving our goal, it is a hard road, but we will get there.
The Branch continues to grow and we have welcomed several new staff at our ranges. We now have a full time Executive Officer as well who is doing a great job in professionalising our Branch and ensuring that we have solid foundations to build upon for the future. In the last 2 years since I have become President we have experienced a large amount of financial growth and this can be demonstrated by an increase of almost 150% in cash at bank holdings. We also continue to experience year-on-year increases at our ranges and from our Branch investments. We are in a good position and look forward to continued growth over the coming year. I would like to thank the staff and my committee who are working to make SSAA Sydney the premier SSAA Branch in the Country! A special mention goes out to all the volunteers who tirelessly donate their time from opening & staffing ranges, being safe shooting instructors, looking after juniors, running competitions and general all round support of Branch activities, without them, we would not be able to achieve the things we are. Your work will be recognised at our annual volunteers recognition dinner in late January 2016.
As the year comes to a close, I would like to wish you and your families a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. I look forward to seeing you on the range in 2016!