The following can be attributed to Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA Inc) Media and Politics Officer Rachael Oxborrow
The Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA Inc) supports the concept of a National Firearms Register giving the ability for law enforcement to better carry out their duties and be safer and fully informed when doing so. We support the need for evidence-based regulation of legal civilian firearm ownership when public safety benefits can be clearly identified.
As we’ve seen in the media over the past few weeks, there will need to be significant investment of funds and time to bring the state and territory firearms registries up to standard to feed into a central National Firearms Register. Current state and territory-based registries are all fundamentally different in the way they operate, the way data is entered and consistency of records. There will be a significant hangover from updating these systems which will take a generation to remedy in terms of addressing errors that go hand-in-hand with human entry and a lack of consistent data entry requirements since the introduction of these systems.
We look forward to some transparency about the amount of money being spent to carry out these upgrades and would suggest public safety improvements could also be made through further investment into resourcing our police forces to target the criminal element and illegal firearm use. We do not support increasing regulation of our already highly policed section of the Australian community who undergo onerous checks and balances to own firearms to use in their sport, recreation and legitimate pest control activities.
Tightening firearms laws which directly relate to firearm ownership will only ever impact the law-abiding. The criminal element of society will not bother following regulatory processes. This is abundantly clear and discussed extensively by the Australian Institute of Criminology and in a recent Deakin University Study. Any new legislation concerning firearms needs to focus on public safety benefits and prevent the occurrence of unintended consequences from policy decisions affecting our community. The Australian Institute of Criminology (Mouzos, 2000) gives a key indication of where efforts should be made:
“(A) majority of firearms used to commit homicide were not registered and the perpetrators of firearm-related homicide were not licensed firearms owners. Those who commit homicide in Australia are individuals who have circumvented legislation and will be least likely to be affected if further restrictions on firearms ownership are introduced. Any further restrictions will most likely affect individuals who are the law-abiding shooters in Australia who’ve already made significant sacrifices in furtherance of public safety.”
Furthermore, the 2022 Deakin University study: ‘I know a guy and he’s got guns galore: Accessing guns in Australian Illicit Firearms Market’ illuminates the real problem this country has with illegal firearms. The study outlines that a cohesive network of career criminals who value trust and secrecy as paramount to conducting their unlawful dealings is running a thriving illicit gun trade. Researchers discovered it was also “surprisingly easy” for criminals to buy firearms through Australia’s ‘black market’ despite the country’s strict gun laws.