NSW safe gun storage laws were softened just months before the death of a three-year-old girl in Sydney’s west from a shotgun wound, prompting a call for the changes to be “urgently reversed”.
The changes that were passed by parliament in May included removing a requirement for gun owners to attend court and face a fine and/or a jail sentence for breaches of storage rules.
Instead, police are now able to issue a penalty notice.
Police are also no longer required to seize improperly stored firearms and ammunition if they are “satisfied that the failure has been rectified or will be rectified without delay”.
The father of the dead girl was charged on Monday with possessing an unregistered and prohibited weapon and failing to take all reasonable precautions to ensure it was safely kept.
A single-barrel sawn-off shotgun, allegedly brought onto the property and left unattended by her father, caused the child’s death.
Police are investigating whether the fatal shot was fired when the three-year-old girl and other children found and began playing with the loaded weapon, Fairfax Media understands.
The victim’s mother was inside the home when the child suffered a gunshot wound to the neck. Police believe the girl’s father was outside the property at the time the gunshot rang out.
He paced around in the street as the girl’s distraught mother was heard screaming that it was all his fault for having a gun inside the home
Quakers Hill Local Area Commander Superintendent Paul Carrett said the shooting was a timely reminder for people to keep firearms stored safely.
Greens MP David Shoebridge said every gun death was tragic “but it is especially cruel when the victim is so young. At this time our thoughts are with this little girl’s family and friends.”
“This emphasises how important safe storage laws are and how any weakening of our gun laws can be a matter of life and death,” he said.
“It was only three months ago that the Coalition and Labor voted in Parliament to water down safe storage laws.
“The law used to provide that if any firearm wasn’t safety stored it was automatically confiscated, this is how the law should be. Parliament should urgently reverse these changes.”
NSW Police Minister Troy Grant said: “There is no way to ensure the safe storage of an unregistered and prohibited firearm.
“This government is committed to ensuring individuals possess their firearms within the extremely strict and robust regime we have in NSW,” he said.