Firearm ownership in Australia on the increase
ABC1, November 13, 2011
SSAA National spokesperson Tim Bannister featured in an ABC television report into new figures suggesting firearm ownership in Australia is on the rise.
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Jeremy Fernandez (presenter): There’s been surge in gun imports in recent years prompting fears that it’s become cool to own a weapon. Membership of shooters clubs has also risen. At the same time though, more guns are ending up on the black market.
Reporter: It was meant to change the gun culture forever; a mass buy back in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre in 1996. But now more weapons have come into the country than were destroyed at the time.
Roland Browne: Well they’re staggering figures, and after the Port Arthur massacre, one would have expected a slow decline in the number of firearms being imported into Australia.
Reporter: New figures show last year 44,000 rifles, 12,000 shotguns, and almost 20,000 handguns were imported. An investigation by Radio National’s Background Briefing shows this is double recent years. Enthusiasts say the surge is fuelled by cheap guns, a popular sport and having more animals to shoot.
Tim Bannister: You’re now seeing more grass, more lizards, more foxes, more cats, more feral pigs. And somebody actually has to do something about that.
Reporter: Activists say a growing number of high calibre, self-loading pistols are making their way onto the black market.
Roland Browne: One thing’s for sure; there’s going to be a public mass shooting with handguns unless we see a ban on these weapons.
Reporter: But sporting shooters say the firearms are in safe hands.
Tim Bannister: Handguns, for instances, are the least likely to be stolen from registered firearm owners. Less than three per cent are ever used in a subsequent crime.
Reporter: Despite a spate of shootings in Sydney and Melbourne, the death rate from firearms remains stable. But one criminologist says that won’t last.
Lorraine Mazerolle: It’s been established for very many years that the more guns there are in a society, the more gun violence there is.
Reporter: And she says only a small fraction of stolen guns are recovered by police. David Spicer, ABC News.