Tramps desperate to get their guns back

MEMBERS of Wangaratta’s Tramps Motorcycle Club have told police they want a response this month as to whether they will have their registered firearms returned.

The guns were confiscated on August 23 by members of Victorian Police’s Echo taskforce in a statewide crackdown on outlaw motorcycle gangs.

Nine members had their guns confiscated in early morning raids after being declared “no longer fit or proper persons” to hold firearm licences.

But the guns were registered and properly stored, and no charges were laid.

A notice of appeal along with submissions from the club’s solicitor, John Suta, were sent to Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay within the allocated 28-day time frame.

Mr Suta said yesterday a delegate for Commissioner Lay was seeking a response from the officer in charge of the Echo task force.

An explanation of the logic behind the taskforce’s actions against the Tramps has been sought.

“We had to respond within 28 days and as a matter of courtesy they should have the same time,” Mr Suta said.

Mr Suta, a member of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, said his clients were incensed the police had either wrongly assumed that the club was engaged in criminal activity or held prejudice towards men who ride motorbikes.

“I fully expect that all members of the club will ultimately have their firearm licences and guns returned to them,” he said.

“But we are ready for an appeal to the Firearms Review Committee, if that becomes necessary.

“The Tramps Motorcycle Club Incorporated is a bunch of guys interested in riding motorcycles and fostering mateship.

“It has made substantial donations to charities over many decades, particularly to the Wangaratta District Specialist School.”

Mr Suta said while there was no definition of what constituted an outlaw motorcycle gang in Victoria, the US Justice Department defined the term as an organisation whose members used such clubs as “conduits for criminal enterprises”.

“I doubt the government would categorise the Tramps and their very substantial donations to charities over many decades as ‘criminal enterprises’,” Mr Suta said.