Wayne Smith had his gun license suspended before the tragedy

But the revelation that Smith’s gun license had been revoked solely for the return of the firearms has put the registry back in the spotlight.


It had previously come under criticism after the New South Wales coroner found multiple failings in the run-up to the shooting death of siblings Jack and Jennifer Edwards, 15 and 13, by their father John Edwards in 2018.

Police made a number of changes after that shooting, but attorney Glenn Kable, who specializes in firearms cases, said mental health issues “related to firearms issues are probably the most difficult to understand, assess and address.”

While the registry’s internal policies list mental health issues as reasons for refusing a gun license, it also warns that these concerns “do not always have a negative impact on the applicant”.

The guidelines list a number of decisions in which the state’s civil and administrative court overturned a police decision barring a gun license.

In one case in 2018, the registry office refused a license to a man who had turned himself in to a police station six years earlier because he heard voices telling him to harm his partner. He then spent a month in a psychiatric ward.

The registry denied the application, saying he had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and “could not rule out the possibility of a relapse in the future.”

But the decision was overturned by the court after a report by a clinical psychologist found that the man had “really recovered” from the 2012 incident. Although the psychologist said he also could not rule out the possibility of recidivism, the court agreed with his finding that the man “would pose no greater risk than any other citizen by possessing and using a firearm.”

In Smith’s case, Kable said a psychological assessment would have been required when he reapplied for his license.

“You need a report from a suitably qualified psychologist, which is a psychiatrist or a psychologist who deals with the problems the person is facing,” he said.

In New South Wales, people need a real reason to own a firearm. This may include recreational hunting, pest control, collecting firearms, a rural occupation, or sports. Speaking to Ben Fordham on 2GB on Wednesday, Catley admitted she didn’t know why Smith needed the gun.

But she backed the register as an entity that followed strict procedure and confirmed Smith’s license was revoked after he said in August 2021 he had had suicidal thoughts.

Catley said afterwards that Smith would not have returned the guns. However, as of this writing, there was little information on his mental state from December 2022 to his death last week.

“It’s very difficult to speculate on what has affected his mental health between December and now, but clearly something happened and we know it [with] the coronal survey… if there are recommendations for improvement there, we will act quickly,” she said.


Catley could not confirm why Smith wanted his firearms back, but said guns are a “way of life” for some people in her constituency, which includes the Hunter and Central Coast regions.

“In the area that I represent, there are a lot of people who carry guns because they go to farms and help eradicate pests… so there’s a lot of reasons,” she said.

In a statement, a NSW Police spokesman said the registry carries out numerous assessment procedures and licenses could be revoked for a number of reasons.

“If a licensed firearms owner is found to have a mental health issue, the Firearms Registry will revoke that individual’s license and confiscate all firearms in their possession while the assessments, which include a mental health risk assessment by a qualified physician, are conducted to determine the.” Suitability to check “This person must continue to have a firearms license,” said the spokesman.

Get support from National Counseling Service for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence in the Family circa 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732). Crisis support is available from Lifeline on 13 11 14 and Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

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Justin Scaccy

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