Gun Control Australia-AFP Association common goal muddied by fear

Gun Control Australia’s calls for major party election commitments to restore funding to firearm crime research are a welcome respite within their latest display of contempt for law-abiding licensed firearm owners.

The Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA National) believes past Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) research into trends on firearms thefts and other related incidents provides valuable insight into the true issues at hand, illicit firearms and the criminal element.

Amid Gun Control Australia’s appeal to politicians campaigning for the May 21 election was unnecessary fearmongering and sensationalism surrounding theft from law-abiding firearm owners being the source of firearms for the criminal element. This involved citing figures collated from a self-authored report, which must be treated with caution. Over the years, figures reported on firearm theft and importation have been proven to be mis-recorded or estimated and importation figures have been proven to be skewed. Borders are showed to be porous, for example, when television show Four Corners revealed a large number of Glocks were illegally brought into Australia and more than 200 firearms were smuggled into the country via Australia Post.

The alarmist sentiment was mirrored in the same media coverage by the Australian Federal Police Association (AFPA). The group suggests an increase in firearm ownership in Australia from 2007 to present day correlates with rising firearm theft numbers.

AFPA president Alex Caruana went so far as to say “gun theft is one of the main sources for guns being subsumed into the illicit market”.

This is in complete contradiction to statements by both the AIC and the Australian Crime Commission that theft from licensed firearm owners are not the main source of supply to the black market. This was highlighted in the 2015 Senate Inquiry into the Ability of Australian law enforcement authorities to eliminate gun-related violence in the community where law enforcement agencies reinforced it is a criminal with an illicit firearm, usually imported illegally into Australia, that is the concern.

AFPA and Gun Control Australia have instead tried to frighten suburban Sydneysiders into believing there are people with hundreds of firearms sitting in homes ready for the taking by criminals. This has been done by using data that verges on an invasion of privacy of law-abiding licensed firearm owners by listing locations and the number of firearms owned by suburb.

Law-abiding licensed firearm owners are among the most heavily regulated and policed in Australia, meeting background checks, genuine reason for ownership requirements and having specific storage regulations in which to adhere. SSAA National maintains a firearms safety campaign known as Secure Your Gun, Secure Your Sport to create greater awareness among our members and the wider shooting fraternity about secure firearms storage.

Mr Caruana also questions the reasoning for owning multiple firearms, illustrating the lack of understanding the AFPA has of firearms and their uses. This includes owning calibre-specific firearms for target shooters, recreational hunters using appropriate firearms for target type and firearm collecting.

Ensuring authorities have a better understanding around firearms and related criminal activity through prioritising research by the AIC is a shared objective between SSAA National, Gun Control Australia and the AFPA. SSAA National prides itself and welcomes contact from any political party and group to share in education, understanding and in creating sensible discussion around firearm ownership and policy.

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