'Handshake' deals mean veteran loses handgun licence

A VIETNAM veteran and gun expert has been banned from having handguns partly because his animal culling work has been based on handshake agreements.

Paul Joseph Feeney had a concealable firearms licence for occupational purposes under the Weapons Act 1990 "for many years", the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal has heard.

But he was told a year ago his licence would not be renewed, so he took the Queensland Police Service to court.

Mr Feeney completed National Service training in 1959, served in Vietnam in 1968 and retired from the Army Reserve as a lieutenant colonel.

Since 2005 he had trained Queensland Military Rifle Club officers in firearms safety.

He was on a weapons advisory panel the former Community Safety Minister Jack Dempsey set up to find ways of cutting bureaucratic hurdles for legitimate gun owners.

QCAT heard Mr Feeney's recreational shooting interests were separate from his work with Professional Vermin Control and Training, set up in 1997 to destroy feral animals and livestock.

He also worked on a property called Keggabilla, near Goondiwindi.

The war veteran said when a person had to destroy an animal in close or confined spaces, a handgun was the only safe option.

There were several reasons for that, including his view that in confined spaces, a rifle could be too powerful with increased risk of "over penetration and subsequent ricochet".

Mr Feeney said some places where he culled animals were familiar to him, but others could hold surprises.

He said losing his handgun would mean he and his colleagues could be exposed to increased danger, and in some cases they would be "unable to dispatch an animal quickly and humanely" when needed.

QPS Weapons Licensing Branch said Mr Feeney had to show "an occupational requirement" for having a handgun.

Mr Feeney said the term "occupational" should be interpreted broadly, and not limited to paid work or having a profitable business.

Some of his work was done on the basis of "handshake agreements" and his pest control firm attended properties five or six times a year on average.

QCAT adjudicator Michael Howe decided the contentious term "occupational requirement" involved an element of commerciality and profit.

"The company keeps accounts and files a tax return but Mr Feeney was vague about the finances and the income derived," Mr Howe added.

Mr Feeney's application for review was dismissed.

- NewsRegional

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