Wake-up call to focus on the right target

Last night’s Four Corners episode on illegal firearms importation is a huge wake-up call to Australia’s police and other authorities by putting a spotlight on what the SSAA has been saying for a long time: firearms are rarely sourced from legal firearm owners. The fact that Australia has porous borders has well and truly been demonstrated by the Sylvania Waters post office importing operation, as shown on the Four Corners episode.

With the Adler A110 lever-action shotgun saga and National Firearms Agreement (NFA) review occupying an extraordinary amount of time and energy from our legislators, it is evident that this waste of public funds is at the detriment of increased police and customs activities on imported mail and shipping containers.

Legal handgun ownership has always been strictly controlled in Australia and it is of great concern to the SSAA that licensed firearm owners continue to be overly regulated with the excuse that these regulations are aiding public safety. While legislators have been happy to lead the public to believe that the NFA is the be all and end all of firearm safety, this is clearly not the case when we are shown the ease with which the Sylvania Waters post office importing ring was able to bring more than 100 semi-automatic Glock pistols into Australia. In reality, police need to be put in the right place and money needs to be put in the right place.

During the ABC’s report, Gary Fleetwood from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission warns that illegal firearm imports are likely to rise in Australia. Yet only between one and three per cent of shipping containers brought into the country are inspected. Improving our border security may not be easy but it is better than wasting money and resources on law-abiding firearm owners.

This wake-up call needs to jolt the authorities into realising they need to engage with the SSAA. We have previously warned them about the reversible deactivation of handguns, poor port security, poor NFA reforms and the general wasting of public funds on policy which targets law-abiding citizens rather than illegal firearms and criminal activity. Unfortunately, this has often fallen on deaf ears.

SSAA National President Geoff Jones says the activities of the Sylvania Waters post office importing ring shows the systemic failure by the Department of Defence, NSW Police and Customs, which all failed to act on a tip-off from German exporter Patrick Feige after he warned them all about the illegal importing. The failure is also clearly seen by the fact that a known criminal and leader of the importing ring, Khoder El Ali, was able to do as much as he did despite previously pleading guilty to importing eight illegal Glock pistols. “While it is impossible to police every action of criminals, it’s time to be honest with the Australian public and put money into securing our borders and crack-down on real criminals, instead of wasting time and money on law abiding citizens who own a legal firearm,” said Geoff.

The SSAA urges our members to contact their federal and state representatives to let them know it’s time they woke up to the reality of illegally imported firearms and to stop wasting time overly regulating law-abiding firearm owners.

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