Firearms licences and the ‘public interest’
Should the right to possess and use firearms be considered a protected individual civil right? Or a privilege regulated by governments and balanced against the ‘public good’?
In 1996 all Australian governments agreed that personal protection would not be regarded as a genuine reason for owning, possessing or using a firearm. Section 3 of the Firearms Act 1996 (NSW) lists as one of its underlying principles ‘to confirm firearm possession and use as being a privilege that is conditional on the overriding need to ensure public safety’ and regulation 19 of the Firearms Regulation 2006 provides that the Commissioner of Police may revoke a licence if satisfied that it is not in the public interest for the licensee to continue to hold the licence. Despite this, there is evidence of support within Australia for recognition of a right to firearm ownership. However, it is difficult to know whether these views are reflective of the wider community or not.