QPS Weapons Licensing Application Processing

Of course, the very day AFTER I sent a somewhat ranty letter to the Minister for Police and my local MP, Steve Minikin… the long awaited for license for my son, did actually turn up in the mail.  Murphy’s Law or something, that one.

But I did get a phone call from a very nice supervisor at Weapon’s Licensing Branch yesterday, who did try and tell me that they were putting processes in place to try and streamline processing times for new applications.  A couple of the things she shared I thought were worth passing on with people who have landed here after Googling for information on Queensland Police Service Weapons Licensing Branch.

What everyone really wants to know is “Why is my firearms application taking so long!?”  Well, that actually has a really simple answer.  They are victims of, A) their own success and B) the idiocy of the average punter.  A while ago, WLB implemented an online lodgement system to streamline their application processes.  This convenient way of applying for your firearms license has made it much easier for people to lodge an application… however, it has inconveniently side stepped the police stations that used to receive applications and, importantly, it has side stepped the QPS officers and QPS administrative staff that used to CHECK that applications were complete BEFORE they made it to WLB.  This means more and more applications are turning up at WLB that are incomplete and can not be processed.  Incomplete applications are now requiring double and triple handling as Authorising Officers are going back and forth with applicants to obtain supporting documentation that should have been supplied with the original application.

Additionally, the perceived ease of lodgement situation has resulted in a 44% INCREASE in new applications over the last twelve months, but so far, (no doubt thanks the Newman Governments public service hiring policy) less than a 10% increase in staff to deal with the influx.  The work unit processing new applications is seriously understaffed and the supervisor I spoke with estimates each staff member is spending up to 25% of their day fielding phone calls from disgruntled applicants.  That’s right, calls to check on applications and people taking out their cranky on the poor admin staff who are trying to get on top of it, is considerably slowing down application processing times.  I am guilty of this one myself (most notably in the situation where my PTA application was lost and all my personal details and firearms licensing information was in the wind), and in some circumstances it is probably warranted, but if you’ve been forewarned that there is a minimum of 10-12 weeks for processing, there is probably not much point in calling up and wasting the time they could be spending actually processing your application.

So, I guess naturally, the next question is “What is WLB doing to fix the problem?”.  Well, unfortunately, it’s not as simple as what my solution would be – HIRE MORE BLOODY STAFF.  It seems they are a bit hamstrung on that one, though they are continually applying pressure to the powers that be to create more positions.  In the interim, they have (probably just after my son’s application was received) started to implement a triage system, whereby certain applications are being speed tracked, so as not to be held up with the backlog.   Applications like Minor’s Licenses, Cat H licenses, PTA’s for existing license holders, and various other “I’ve already been vetted by your people or I am 11, so am unlikely to have a criminal history”, applications are going to the top of the queue.   After that COMPLETE new applications are being processed first so as not to be delayed by incomplete applications.  Literally it sounds like anything that is received incomplete is being thrown in the ‘sigh, not again’ pile.

QLD-FA-LICENCE-V3-FSo, next logical question “What can I do to get my application processed faster?”  Well, the best thing anyone can do at the moment to try and expedite their application, is to do everything humanly possible to make sure your application is correct and complete.  Double check you’ve got your ID info together, have a suitable photo attached, make sure you attach your safety induction certification, add a copy of your SSAA membership if you are a sporting shooter, or your letters of permission if you are planning on being a rural shooter, as well as any requested medical info that may need to be supplied.  And then basically, do not send that sucker off until you have ticked all the boxes, dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s.  Best suggestion if in doubt – lodge it the old fashioned way at the Police Station so that some one can check you’ve got everything in order.

And then, there’s nothing you can do to speed things up, other than wait without calling every other week to interrupt them.  Good luck!

Another day another Ministerial to the Minister of Police

Another day passes and more ineptitude becomes apparent from Queensland Police Service Weapons Licensing Branch.   CAN THEY GET NOTHING RIGHT?!?!  I have decided that I want my son to take up shooting with me, which actually means very little.  He doesn’t have to be licensed to come shooting, he doesn’t have to undergo safety induction training and he doesn’t have to jump through voluminous hoops of untold amounts of legal bullshit and paperwork.  However, as a responsible sporting shooter, it is my preference that my son does attend safety inductions, and does become a responsible member of the sporting shooters community and to me, that means doing the inductions and getting him licensed… I believe this has several benefits, it builds into young shooters a sense of belong and community, as well as reinforces the importance of responsible firearms ownership and management, which can only put them in good stead for the future. Yes, I know.  I am so idealistic it is making me sick.  The path to hell is paved with good intentions, so why the hell am I surprised that Weapons Licensing Branch is pissing me off yet again!  Months and months of delays… precipitating yet another fucking long winded ministerial to try and get some movement on the damn thing.  I have included a copy of it here for anyone who might want to replicate parts of it for their own complaints – which I am certain the various MPs are receiving in bulk at the moment: Attn:  Steve Minikin MP & Jack Dempsey MP CC:  Manager Weapons Licensing Branch

Dear Messrs Minikin and Dempsey
I would write to say that I have recently gone through the process of assisting my son apply for a Category A/B Firearms license so that he may start to compete in Junior division target shooting competitions – but seeing that 104 DAYS, (of which, 74 were business days) have passed since his application was lodged via QPS Weapons Licensing Branch’s supposedly streamlined online application process, one can hardly characterise this as recent!
On February 22nd my son completed the compulsory safety induction course.  On February 23rd, he was awarded his Statement of Attainment for same.  On February 27th, his application was lodged online with Queensland Police Service Weapons Licensing Branch along with all necessary documents and the fee of $155.25 was paid at this time.  Some ten weeks later on May 18th I called to check on the progress of this application and was informed it had been received, but had yet not even been assigned to an Authorizing Officer.  Finally on May 22nd, we were informed by email that the case had been assigned to an Authorizing Officer and that we were required to present ID at Wynnum Police Station to verify my son’s identification.  This was duly completed the next working day.  At this time I also completed an Eligibility to Join a Registered Pistol Club Form with QPS WLB, also for my son, so that he may start the process of joining the Belmont Pistol Club and participate in pistol competitions as well.
Two days ago, June 10, the Eligibility to Join a Registered Pistol Club Authority Letter arrived in the mail, after barely 7 days had passed, while yet we continue to wait on his Category A/B Firearms License.  The Pistol Club Authority is a NO FEE service and was processed in a matter of days while the Cat A/B licence is still no where to be seen.  This application has now taken in excess of 100 days to process, in spite of my having to pay $155.25 for it to be processed and issued.  This delay is completely unacceptable.  It is obvious that the administrative unit processing new firearms license applications is completely over run with an enormous backlog of work – anecdotal evidence from my fellow shooters suggests that some license are taking up to NINE MONTHS to be processed – while the less common applications, are being processed in very reasonable time frames.  Are there units of staff at QPS WLB sitting around doing nothing, waiting for special applications to arrive while their colleagues in new firearms license application units are run off their feet and swamped by months long backlogs?  If so, this is patently ridiculous.
I find it deplorable that QPS can charge a (not inconsiderable) fee for processing a license application and then not attend to these applications in a reasonable timeframe – as indeed, they are required to do so under the legislation.  There is no way the Department of Transport would ever be allowed to operate like this – lodge a license application, pay your fee, then wait up to nine months to receive the document you paid for.  Is it the Department’s preference that people go about their activities without the requisite licences?  If there is to be a fee for service process, then clients should be able to expect a level of service that is commensurate with the fees being paid, and the timeframes outlined in the legislation governing the issuing of Firearms Licenses.
Unfortunately this is NOT a new problem, nor is it a new experience for the shooters of Queensland.  I waited in excess of three months for my own Category A/B license in 2009, (excuses at that time claimed that a new computer system was holding up processing times), additionally I was forced to wait a further three months when applying for a Category H license in 2011 (excuses this time blamed inner city flooding for processing delays).  Expectations of ANY new applications being attended to, and processed in a timely fashion are at an all time low within Queensland’s shooting community and sentiment towards QPS WLB is increasingly disgruntled and hostile.
The Queensland LNP Government came into power on a promise of cutting red tape for firearms owners and to date, we have seen nothing but waiting times and processing times continue to worsen.  I respectfully request that my son’s application (details below) be looked into, reviewed and an explanation be provided as to what has caused these unwarranted delays.  Additionally, myself and the responsible firearms owners of Queensland deserve to know what is being done to rectify this ridiculous situation, as it is obviously not a new problem.  We have seen the LNP Government process legislative changes overnight on issues that are high on their political agenda – so telling us these things take time is just not good enough.
…  absolutely no fucking regards, signed ME.
I have a feeling this will make absolutely no difference whatsoever.  But on the off chance I actually get the written response that I have requested, I will be sure to post it here.  Grrr.  Who needs this constant aggravation???
PS:  I always feel the need to distance my disgust for the administrative clusterfuck that is Queensland Police Service Weapons Licensing Branch from my respect and admiration for the QPS Officers who are on the ground putting themselves at risk to keep our communities safe.  Hate your bosses, love your work.
cops queensland police service

Qld Police Weapons Licensing – Still suck.

Yep, that’s right, Queensland Police Service, Weapons Licensing Branch are fucking us around – YET AGAIN!

When I applied for my Cat A/B licence… it was the implementation of a new computer system that was allegedly holding up processing.
When I applied for my Cat H licences… it was the 2011 floods that supposedly affected QPS offices that was blamed for excessive processing times.
When I applied for a PTA for my first Cat H acquisition… it was a backlog of applications that was stated to be the problem.
When I applied for a PTA for my second Cat H acquisition… it was lost paperwork that was claimed to be at fault for everything taking forever.

Now I’ve applied for a Cat A/B licence for my son, and I’m told that delays already at over 11 weeks, are the result of ‘an inordinate volume of new applications, so don’t bother even calling us until it has been more than 12 weeks since you lodged your application’.  Application was lodged on FEBRUARY 28th… I made a call on MAY 19th, and was told it wasn’t even assigned to an Authorising Officer yet…  And it’s now JUNE 3rd and there’s still no fucking sign of it.

WeaponsLicensingOnline footerOh, and this was a fricken online application.  That means the new streamlined computerised system that was holding us all up, five years ago, is STILL holding us up!  Their damn website is covered in logos that say ‘Save Time – Apply Online’.  What a joke.  Save what fucking time?  It’s taking just as long, if not longer than it did when we had to lodge in person at a police station – not to mention the fact that part way through the process, you lot are going to request that we attend a Police Station (of your choosing) to provide proof of ID to an authorised officer at some point anyway… so where exactly is the benefit in using the online application system?

Now, I might be wrong, but Weapons Licensing are required to attend to applications in a timeframe that is deemed ‘as soon as is practicable’ after any mandatory 28 day waiting periods.  I don’t know about y’all, but 12 weeks does not seem a practical or equitable wait period for any government FEE FOR SERVICE process.  Because of course the buggers have had my money since February 28th for a service not yet rendered.  Now it doesn’t matter so much for a Cat A/B… but if I’ve joined a pistol club, that is a quarter of my yearly membership fee (and importantly my range fees!) used up by the time I get my licence and can go down the range, and practice shoot independently, as a licensed shooter – and that is seriously FUCKED.

I should not have to resort to writing indignant letters to the Minister for Queensland Police Service, the Queensland Police Service Commissioner, the Director of Queensland Police Service Administrative Branch, the Manager of Weapons Licensing Branch and the designated Authorizing Officer just to have a simple licence application processed, and one that I have bloody well paid for, at that. (That is the exact list of people to ‘cc’ into your complaint if you want to see some immediate action, btw – all email addresses readily available with a big of digging around the QPS website.)

I continue to be gobsmacked at the complete lack of efficacy and accountability demonstrated by the obviously inept managerial and administrative staff running Queensland’s Weapons Licensing Branch.  I mean, how friggin’ hard is it to train extra staff to do what is essentially data processing and run background checks through QPS’s own databases?  How bloody bad does it have to get before they actually recruit and put on some extra staff to process this alleged ‘high volume of applications’?  FFS,  I’ll fucking go work for them if they need it – by all accounts, it sounds like the sort of admin grunt work a trained monkey could do.

But in the meantime, here I wait with absolutely no patience whatsoever for Queensland Police Service’s Weapons Licensing Branch to finally GET THEIR SHIT TOGETHER!

SSAA Belmont Pig and Plate Competition

I don’t usually shoot the Pig and Plate competition and when I got there I realised I had forgotten what the rules and course of fire were for this particular comp.  Unfortunately, our local website doesn’t contain info that would let me know what to expect before I turned up.  So I am writing it up here in case it is another two years before I turn up!

The Pig and Plate is a metallic silhouette competition with targets set at 15 meters, 25 meters and 50 meters.  It is shot with the shooters choice of centre fire handgun.  The competition is clearly designed with revolver shooters in mind, as each row of targets is designed to be shot in a series of six.

If shooting with a revolver, shooters will need a pistol and three reloads of six rounds (either reloading by hand if you’re confident or speed loader is you want to save time.  If shooting with a semi-automatic pistol, shooters will need to load six rounds into each magazine.  Shooters will need a minimum of 54 rounds of ammunition to complete the competition.

Upon approaching the line, each competitor will have a spotter to perform safety cross checks, ensure the course of fire is completed correctly, and tally your score.   The range will be called open and shooters will be instructed to load their first six rounds (either directly into the chambers of their revolver or by feeding in the first magazine).  A siren will sound and the shooter will have ONE MINUTE (which is actually a really long time!) to shoot the follow sequence:

  • Five rounds at the front row of five PLATES set at 15 meters
  • One round at the round PLATE to the right of the silhouettes set at 25 meters
  • Six rounds at will, at the five RAM and TURKEY silhouettes set at 25 meters
  • Six rounds at will, at the PIG silhouettes set at 50 meters

The first sequence must be shot left to right with one shot at each target – first the five plates in the front row, and the sixth plate which is set to the right of the second row of silhouettes.  Each competitor shoots once only at each plate, and must move onto the next target if a target is missed.

silhouette pig and plate comp

*Note that the plate at 25 meters has been drawn smaller – it is not, it’s just further away!

Scoring is as follows, 10 points for each plate knocked over, 30 points for the ‘bonus’ plate at 25 meters.  10 points for each ram, turkey or pig target that is knocked over.  A perfect score for a shooter on completing the first round would be 180.
Each shooter has three opportunities to shoot the course of fire, and scores from each round are combined to give an aggregate total.  A perfect score of three perfect rounds would yield a maximum score of 540.

It is a great fun shoot.  Will be there again soon, I hope.