Former cop puts forward call for permanent gun amnesty
A FORMER police officer who once had a gun pointed at him in the line of duty would not seem the most likely advocate for the sport of shooting.
But Sunshine Coast Shooting Club vice-president Russell Davis says a surge of interest in the community - from single mothers to children and grandparents - has greater numbers heading to the club's days for new shooters, with participants waiting up to four hours to shoot.
"It's something they don't normally get a chance to do," he said.
Mr Davis described shooting as a non-contact, affordable sport involving a high level of skill.
The long-time Sunshine Coast resident said the new shooter program, held every second Sunday, was aimed at educating participants on the sport and safe gun-handling practices.
As a former officer of eight years, and police photographer, Mr Davis has seen what firearms are capable of in the wrong hands.
"I've had a gun pointed at me in a siege situation," he said.
Mr Davis said the public should not be alarmed by the number of licensed firearm owners on the Sunshine Coast.
"These people aren't arming themselves for a conflict or anything," he said. "They're enjoying the sport.
"The whole family can get involved at the same time."
Mr Davis said the public's perception of the sport was often negative, but people should "come out and see it's a genuine sport".
The 20-year club member said he supported a permanent gun amnesty, which would allow people to relinquish unregistered firearms that were often unknowingly in their possession.
Mr Davis said the 2013 amnesty, which allowed people to hand in firearms at gun dealers or clubs, should be repeated.
"It was a phenomenal success," he said.
"Having a permanent one (amnesty) allows unregistered guns to get off the street."
Mr Davis said excelling in shooting competition took skill and practice.
"We run these programs so that anyone can come out and see it's not going to turn these people into serial killers," he said.
The most recent figures provided by Queensland Police showed there were 26,261 registered weapons on the Sunshine Coast, held by 7560 licensees.
The club has wheelchair access.