For immediate release 11 March 2004
Firearm audit misses the criminal mark
The Sporting Shooters Association of Australia Incorporated (SSAA Inc.) are concerned that police are being taken away from vital duties to audit firearms owners in NSW. The Australian President of the SSAA Inc., Mr Bill Shelton, said that the community expects police to be dealing with real problems and that diverting Police resources away from essential crime fighting and road patrol duties to audit sportspeople that have passed mandatory Police background checks is criminal.
Mr Shelton said "Sporting shooters are some of the safest sportspeople in the country, having voluntarily submitted to and passed Police background checks prior to being able to own and use firearms". He also added that any suggestion that legitimate firearms owners would attack police is ludicrous, however annoying or inconvenient it may be for officers to turn up unannounced at a home. He went on to say that “However unfairly treated sporting shooters feel they have been treated with the recent legislation we will continue to treat the police with courtesy when they visit and we hope that police officers remember that we are law abiding citizens authorised to own firearms and not criminals when they do arrive to undertake audits”.
The SSAA Inc. is also concerned that what started as a safety audit of handgun storage has now become a costly program of verifying the details in the NSW firearm registry. Police are being asked to check every registered firearm serial number against a list supplied by the registry, increasing the time police will be committed to the audit. Mr Shelton expressed surprise that a general safety audit has become a convoluted check of firearms that are already supposed to be listed on the police database and emphasised his concern that this adds to the length of time officers will not be able to pursue their real work.
Based on data collected by the Australian Institute of Criminology, it is now apparent that the cost of the nationally uniform firearms legislation grossly outweighed any possible benefit to the community that it was supposed to have brought. The cost of the 1996 National Firearms Agreement was approximately $500 million dollars and the most recent 'handgun buy back' has cost taxpayers approximately $100 million. Mr Shelton pointed out that “Instead of thinking about better health care or putting police on the beat, both the Federal and State Governments now seem intent on redirecting police away from catching gang rapists, pulling over drink drivers, or tackling the problem of gang warfare in inner Sydney suburbs.”