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Bikies take action to get guns back

Date

Dan Oakes

Members of a bikie club who had their guns seized by a special police task force will begin legal action against the Chief Commissioner to have their weapons returned.

As reported by Fairfax today, the Wangaratta-based Tramps motorcycle club had threatened to go to court after Ken Lay revoked their firearms licences on the grounds that they were not "fit and proper persons".

Lawyer John Suta gave the Chief Commissioner a deadline of noon today to decide whether the licences should be restored and weapons handed back. That did not happen, so the club members will commence action in the Supreme Court next week.

"There's been no response by noon today, so I've spoken to (barristers) Trevor Monti and Michael Seelig," Mr Suta said.

"We'll be conferring formally in Wangaratta on Wednesday, Justice Beech will sit in Wangaratta between the 7th of November and the 6th of December, and during that period of time my instructions are to bring an application seeking an order that the Chief Commissioner be compelled to execute his duty and make a decision.

"Either withdraw the suspension or cancel the licences. We want a decision."

The registered weapons were confiscated in August as part of a crackdown on what police described as "outlaw motorcycle gangs", although the Tramps and other clubs dispute that characterisation.

Mr Suta wrote to the Chief Commissioner in September and again last month asking him to reconsider his decision to declare that the Tramps members were not fit to hold a firearms licence, but has had no response.

Police confiscated a registered .22 calibre rifle from the house of club president Ronny Harding, which Mr Harding said was used to shoot sheep and vermin on his farm.

Other members of the club lost shotguns and high-powered rifles, which they say are used to hunt feral deer.

Any decision to give weapons back to club members would raise questions about the evidence used to revoke the licences in the first place.

If the Chief Commissioner does not reverse his decision to cancel the firearms licences, the next step would be an appeal to the independent Firearms Appeals Committee, and then the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

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