Man with disability keeps gun licence after two-year legal battle with police
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A man has successfully overturned a decision by NSW Police to revoke his gun licence because of his disability.
The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) this week declared Gregory Ashton was a "fit and proper person who can be trusted to have possession of firearms" after a two-year battle to keep his licence and his guns.
Police officers made the decision to revoke his licence in September 2020 after visiting his home for a routine firearms inspection, where they observed Mr Ashton using a wheelchair due to the effects of muscular dystrophy.
Police later sent a letter informing Mr Ashton his licence had been revoked "due to your current physical condition, being confined to a wheelchair" and claimed he had "no genuine reason to possess a firearms licence".
Police also claimed Mr Ashton was "argumentative and belligerent" during the inspection and had a "disregard for firearms legislation".
The 72-year-old appealed the decision to the tribunal, arguing he had been using guns since he was 12 years old, including some used for hunting and others he kept as collectibles.
When asked how his disability might impact his use of a firearm, Mr Ashton told the tribunal he was able to "shoot out of a stationary vehicle out the window" and would be able to retrieve it if he dropped one.
Mr Ashton told the tribunal the unannounced visit from police was "a shock" and that he found them "overbearing", while his wife Robyn accused the officers of being "demeaning and condescending" towards her husband.
A lawyer representing the NSW Police Commissioner told the tribunal "it was not the position of the Commissioner that persons with disabilities can never be granted a firearms licence" and used "Paralympian shooters" as an example.
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But claimed "the Commissioner has not reached a state of satisfaction about the safe storage and handling of the firearms and the manner in which Mr Ashton will conduct himself".
NCAT Senior Member Linda Rogers overturned the decision, saying there was no evidence Mr Ashton could not be trusted with guns.
"I am satisfied that there is no appreciable risk arising from his physical disabilities in his handling or use of firearms," Ms Rogers wrote.
Adding the Commissioner's argument was "not borne out by the evidence and in my view is theoretical or fanciful".
Mr Ashton can now re-apply for his firearms licence to be renewed.
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