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Nats want states to agree on Adler shotgun

AAP logoAAP 18/10/2016 Paul Osborne, AAP Senior Political Writer

Federal Nationals MPs want the states to get on with reclassifying a seven-shot shotgun so it can be imported for farmers wanting to kill feral pigs.

As the government pushes back against Labor claims it's willing to trade-off watered down gun laws for Senate votes, the prime minister has accused the opposition of not supporting a crackdown on gun smuggling.

Nationals MP Mark Coulton says the heated debate is actually about reclassifying the Adler lever-action shotgun so that its use is covered by tougher restrictions that it is now.

"Quite frankly I'm a bit frustrated that it's actually become a political issue when really it's one of compliance and process," he told ABC radio on Wednesday.

"We've got a political storm going now that's not based a lot on fact."

Mr Coulton says the shotgun is particularly valuable for farmers with a feral animal problem.

"You want to be able to shoot as many of these animals as possible without having to pull up and reload," he said.

The Adler shotgun is now a class A weapon, meaning it's relatively easy to obtain by licensed shooters.

State ministers are considering a higher classification but their talks have stalled.

The federal government has extended an interim ban on imports of the gun until an agreement is reached.

NSW Deputy Premier Tory Grant will ask the Baird cabinet to make the gun available only to farmers and any professional shooters they hire to get rid of feral pests.

The extended ban has frustrated Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm, who says the government reneged on a deal it had with him to lift it after a year.

He has threatened to withhold his support from key coalition legislation.

Senator Leyonhjelm, who has welcomed the backing of some Nationals especially Senator McKenzie and minister Nigel Scullion, described Mr Grant's proposal as a reasonable compromise.

"If it's going to settle this issue down then I think most shooters could cope with that," he told reporters.

Liberal MP Ian Goodenough has also backed his coalition colleagues tweeting: "I endorse @senbmckenzie and @MarkCoultonMP calls for the Adler shotgun to be classified as Category "B" on technical grounds."

Labor has characterised the issue as government "horse-trading" gun laws.

Senator Doug Cameron says Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is under siege from the Nationals.

"He would even put the Australian public in danger by allowing the import of these Adler shotguns if he thought that would help his position with the right wing of the party," he told reporters.

But Mr Turnbull says there is no proposal or possibility of weakening gun laws.

"The national firearms agreement is set in stone," he told Gold FM radio, pointing out Labor had twice voted against legislation that would have imposed a mandatory five-year jail sentence on gun smugglers.

Most of the gun crime in Australia was carried out with unregistered or illegally imported weapons.

"We are seeking to stamp that out and (Opposition Leader) Bill Shorten is not helping," Mr Turnbull said.

Labor says it opposed the measure because it does not believe in mandatory sentencing for any crime.

Mr Shorten said voters could not trust the coalition on gun laws.

"Malcolm Turnbull is so weak that anyone can tweak his tail and make him change his mind," the Labor leader told reporters in Canberra.

"The proposition that they would water-down a ban on lever-action shotguns, more guns in Australia, in return for a vote on industrial relations legislations shows you just how weak Malcolm Turnbull has become."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters the import ban on lever-action shotguns with more than five rounds would remain in place until the states came to an agreement on how they should be reclassified.

Mr Turnbull said no one was advocating a weakening of the national firearms agreement.

"The debate that has been going on between state and territory (police) ministers is how much stronger the regulation of those guns should be," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

"And we are encouraging that various jurisdictions come to a resolution, but until they do the ban will remain in place."

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