Pocket knife fine the thin edge of the wedge

Pocket knife fine could see end of firearms licence: Shooters Union

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News last week that Chinchilla's Wayne McLennan had been fined $100 for unlawful possession of a knife in public has far-reaching ramifications, according to a Queensland shooting organisation.

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News last week that Chinchilla's Wayne McLennan had been fined $100 for unlawful possession of a knife in public has far-reaching ramifications, according to a Queensland shooting organisation.

Mr McLennan, 75, was stopped by Chinchilla police on August 2 for a breathalyser test, but his blood alcohol reading at the station was under the limit.

According to a police spokesman, it was while he was being detained that officers noticed he was carrying a knife.

He was subsequently charged and issued with a notice to appear in court over the pocket knife, which was inside its leather pouch and attached to his waist belt.

He pleaded guilty to the offence under the Weapons Act and was fined $100, which Kennedy MP Bob Katter said was "nearly unbelievable", describing it as the work of "authoritarian fun destroyers".

Shooters Union president Graham Park believes it's even worse than that.

He said carrying a pocket knife was not illegal in Queensland and Mr McLennan should never have been charged in the first place, much less been allowed to plead guilty to the offence.

According to the Country Caller, which broke the story, police said that under the Weapons Act 1990, it was prohibited for a person to carry a knife in a public place without a reasonable excuse, and Mr McLennan's conduct was illegal because at the time he was not performing work in primary production.

However, Mr Park said section 51(2)(d) of the Act explicitly says a person may carry a pen knife or swiss army knife "for its normal utility value".

"My wife had a swiss army knife in her handbag on a visit to Parliament House not too long ago and when they saw it on screening, they asked her why she had it," he said. "She responded, 'to cut apples' and security staff said they would hold it for her until she left, which they did with no fuss and all quite civil."

Not only was the Shooters Union disturbed that normal utility value hadn't been taken into account, it was concerned that a fine could lead to people losing their firearms licence.

Mr Park said if people accepted the charge and paid the fine rather than contesting it, they could discover they were losing their firearms licence because they'd been found guilty of a weapons offence.

"Weapons Licensing may consider they are no longer a fit and proper person to own a gun as a result," he said. "The branch has been taking an overzealous approach to deciding who meets the 'fit and proper person' criteria for a firearms licence of late, and an incident like this could easily put an innocent gun owner on their radar for the wrong reasons."

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The police spokesman didn't respond to questions about whether a successful prosecution could be used to refuse a weapons licence.

He said that knife crime continued to be prevalent in Queensland, with statistics indicating a 33 per cent increase in knife-related offences in public since 2016.

Mr Park said people that had been charged with going armed in public to cause fear, even wielding a stick, had been proven to have intent.

"We don't think it's contentious to say, maybe people should consider before they plead guilty to charges of unlawful possession," he said. "People don't realise the potential consequences."

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The story Pocket knife fine the thin edge of the wedge first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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