THE banning of the sale of firearms and ammunition for sporting and recreational purposes could potentially see the closure of Australia's longest continually operating hunting store for the first time.
RF Scott and Co has been operating continuously in Ballarat since 1886, but now faces one of its greatest challenges.
Owner Gary Huntington has been forced to lay off one part-time worker, but there are concerns the store might be forced into a temporary closure if business falls below the 30 per cent threshold which he says it needs to remain operating in the short-term.
The National Cabinet making decisions on coronavirus-related issues said on Tuesday the new measures were designed to protect licensed firearm owners and dealers as well as the broader community.
However, Mr Huntington - who has run RF Scott and Co for eight years, three years in its current Howitt Street location - said the loss of recreational sales could force the doors to close for the first time in 134 years.
"Whoever comes in for ammunition, they must have a gun licence and we check that and if it's got primary producer stamped on it, it's still above board," he said. "They couldn't just cut those people out who need ammunition.
"It's going to affect us big time. We're trying to stay open as long as we can, naturally we have big bills to pay.
"It's not just your licence to be a dealer here, there's insurance, all the ammunition comes under WorkSafe, so that's separate again, you're paying for permits all the time.
"I've got two staff, I will have to lay off my part-timer today. Unfortunately if we can't sell, we can't have people just standing here, we'll go broke."
The new legislation is aimed at limiting new applications for firearm licences after a recent spike.
It aims "to prevent potential stockpiling, and the risk that firearms and ammunition could fall into criminal hands or dealers could be targeted by organised crime".
"Licensed dealers will now be prohibited from selling firearms and ammunition for sporting or recreational purposes for the duration of the coronavirus outbreak," the legislation says.
"Those with a need to access firearms and ammunition for essential services, like farmers and rural landholders, professional vermin control and armed guards will still be able to access them for these purposes."
Ballarat's only other hunting retailer, H Rehfisch and Co in Latrobe Street, has already closed its doors.
"We are taking this issue very seriously, and we still have no idea the period of time that we will remain closed. It is a scary unknown at the moment, so we aim to help as many of you as possible before the inevitable call that our state goes into some sort of 'lockdown'," management said in a social media post.
"We apologise for any inconvenience, delays or frustration during this time.
"We have been playing it day by day and it is a confusing time for both you as our customers, and us as a small business. We ask you to display patience and kindness to those around you."
Mr Huntington said the business would continue to operate in "some form" if doors were forced to close, saying he would always be available for farmers and producers should they need assistance.
"The shop has survived the Great Depression, all the world wars, we've never experienced anything like this," he said.
'We're hanging on, and we'll try and hang on as long as we can, but once it goes below 30 per cent sales, we'll need to get some coverage.
"We'll close temporarily if we have to, but if you haven't got the money to pay bills, there's nothing you can do. People don't see all the hidden costs, if you pay $100 for something, you might see $20 if you're lucky."
Victoria Police has established a coronavirus enforcement squad of 500 officers, coordinated through the Police Operations Centre, to ensure that measures that have been put in place to combat coronavirus are followed.
Police minister Lisa Neville said it was a response to recent rises in applications. "We're responding to an increase in demand for firearms and ammunition across the country by doing what we can to protect licensed firearm owners and dealers as well as the broader community," she said.
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