Originally published in The Weekend Australian
Gun licence numbers in Queensland have surged in the three years since the Newman government introduced reforms to cut weapons-licensing bureaucracy and brought in tougher penalties for illegal firearms.
Since 2011, the number of new gun licences has more than doubled in Queensland, rising from 7712, to 8528 in 2012; 18,178 in 2013; and 16,708 in 2014, in figures supplied to The Weekend Australian.
Permits for shotguns and rifles, category A and B weapons, were extended from five to 10 years and stretched the time available to acquire permits. Mandatory sentencing was also introduced for possessing illegal guns.
Police Minister Jack Dempsey said the Liberal National Party planned to continue its reforms if re-elected.
“Since 2012, we have introduced tough mandatory penalties for possessing illegal weapons, and reduced unnecessary red tape for legitimate owners,” he said.
“We will continue to work with all parties on reducing red tape and targeting illegal firearms in Queensland.”
The changes were ushered in after the LNP government created a six-member Ministerial Weapons Advisory Panel to advise the government “how to reduce the red tape, delays and bureaucracy” in its first year of office.
All had links to the gun lobby, sparking criticism from the Queensland Police Union that the panel was not representative of all views. The union was added to the panel the following day.
A three-month national amnesty in 2013 saw almost 5000 weapons surrendered and almost 14,000 registered in Queensland.
From February 2013, those convicted of trafficking illegal firearms must serve a minimum of five years in custody.