A WESTERN suburbs handgun club was allowed to keep operating despite some of its members falsifying records and letting unlicensed people shoot at the club.
Police raided the Wyndham Handgun Club last year after a whistleblower alleged club members were lying about how many days' shooting they had done in the past year, which would affect their fitness to hold a licence. It is unclear how many members of the club were implicated, but Fairfax Media has been told it could be up to 10, and that the fabrication of records could have been going on for years.
The Licensing and Regulation Division of Victoria Police wrote to the club in October, saying it believed that club officials and ordinary members were guilty of multiple breaches of the Firearms Act, including:
■Claiming participation on days they were not at the range.
■Claiming working bees as handgun participation.
■Knowingly causing false records to be sent to police.
■Falsely claiming participation at events held by other clubs.
Under state law, shooters with one or two types of handgun need to shoot 10 days a year, and those with three types 12 days a year, if they want to retain their licence.
''[Licensing and Regulation Division] identified that persons who failed to meet the annual handgun participation requirements have been able to retain their handgun licences and handguns because of the false records that have been submitted to LRD by the individuals and club,'' Victoria Police said in a letter to the club.
The management board of Werribee International Shooting Complex, where the handgun club shoots, this week suspended the club from using the facility for three years. It is believed that representatives of other clubs that use the complex are dismayed that Victoria Police allowed the handgun club to continue to operate.
They have also expressed concern about the impact the handgun club's actions will have on the sport's reputation in the wider community. Additionally, the complex management has accused club members of ''bullying, threatening and abusive'' behaviour at club meetings where dissident members expressed concern about the falsification of records.
A spokeswoman for Victoria Police said the investigation of the breaches of the Firearms Act was ongoing, and confirmed that a deal had been cut with the club's lawyers to install a new committee.
''It is worth noting that less than 15 per cent of the club members are alleged to be involved in this activity and none of those members are eligible for appointment to the new committee,'' she said.
''Victoria Police will continue to actively audit and monitor the club in line with the Firearms Act. Additionally, there are elements within the club's plan that allow Victoria Police to further scrutinise the club's activities.''
She said the members who were implicated in the falsification of records had had their licences suspended, and had appealed to the Chief Commissioner to have the suspension lifted. ''In terms of the club's approval, given the small percentage of those involved in the alleged activity, the action taken against their individual licences, along with the plan put to Victoria Police by the club, it was not deemed necessary to revoke the approval.''
The Age tried to contact the handgun club.
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