Myths busted at illegal firearms inquiry, says Senator Leyonhjelm

Press release from Senator David Leyonhjelm, Senator for New South Wales

Liberal Democratic Party Senator David Leyonhjelm has joined with Coalition senators in issuing a Majority Report on the Senate’s inquiry into illicit firearms.

The Chair’s report, issued by Greens Senator Penny Wright, was only supported by Labor Senator Joe Ludwig.

The Majority Report recommended that the government impose no further restrictions on law abiding firearms owners, and encourages state governments to reduce the red tape affecting them.

The Report describes how the inquiry heard compelling evidence that responsibility for the existence and misuse of illegal firearms in Australia rests with criminal gangs and failures of border control.

“All available evidence delivered to the inquiry confirmed that Australian gun owners are overwhelmingly storing their firearms responsibly and these firearms are not being used in illegal activity,” Senator Leyonhjelm said.

“Although this inquiry was set up as a publicity seeking exercise by the Greens, it has actually been useful in debunking a number of myths about gun ownership in Australia. I am delighted to have worked with a majority of Senators to produce a rational, objective report.”

Senator Leyonhjelm noted some interesting findings from the inquiry, including:

  • Despite a significant increase in gun ownership in Australia since the 1996 gun confiscation, gun crime in Australia continues to be in decline.
  • Illegal importation of guns by criminals was highlighted as a major threat by NSW Police.
  • The easing of restrictions on registration of long-arms in Canada has not contributed to an increase in gun related violence.
  • There was a marked increase in gun-related violence in the UK despite a ban on handguns.
  • Recreational shooters and hunters spent $1 billion each year, much of it in regional areas directly supporting jobs and small businesses.

Senator Leyonhjelm said he and the Liberal and National Senators worked together in good faith to produce a report that would help to guide government policy.

Key recommendations in the Majority report are as follows:

  1. New regulations do not need to be introduced to cover the manufacture of 3D printed firearms and firearm parts at this point in time. It is nonetheless important to continue monitoring the risks posed by 3D manufacturing of firearms.
  2. Membership data held by gun clubs should remain a responsibility of State and Territory governments.
  3. An ongoing Australia-wide gun amnesty could potentially reduce the number of illicit firearms in the community, especially those firearms that were not given up as part of the 1996 buyback. It is, however, noted that criminals are unlikely give up any firearms.
  4. The Commonwealth should commission a study into the social, economic and environmental benefits of hunting across Australia, similar to the report that was released by the Victorian Government in 2013.
  5. The Commonwealth should establish a formal mechanism for industry and firearm user groups to be consulted on issues relating to firearms regulation.
  6. The Commonwealth should continue to pursue improvements in border control for detecting illegal imports of firearms and firearms parts.
  7. The Commonwealth should review its contribution to firearms regulation in the context of the Reform of the Federation White Paper.
  8. State and territory governments should investigate avenues to deregulate the firearm industry to ease the economic burden on governments, industry and legal firearm users.
  9. The Australian Institute of Criminology should not receive additional funding for further research programs.
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