After a spree of gun-related threats and drive-by shootings, the Australian Federal Police Association is calling for a nationwide firearms registry to help curb gun violence within the Canberra community.
In the past six weeks, ACT Policing has reported four violent firearm attacks, with two people left in hospital with gunshot wounds.
On 11 March, a woman was taken to hospital with a gunshot wound to the shoulder after a bikie-related drive-by shooting in Richardson. On 2 March, a man was taken to hospital after seven shots were fired from a rifle in a suburban street in Theodore.
On 8 February, police arrested and charged a 24-year-old man after he made threats to kill and robbed a Fyshwick business at gunpoint last month. On 4 February, three bullets were fired into a two-storey home in Kambah in a gang-related drive-by shooting.
AFPA president Angela Smith said Australia’s inconsistent approach to firearms regulation must be addressed and is calling on the major parties in the upcoming Federal Election to introduce a national firearms registry.
The AFPA believes a national register for firearms will give authorities a central point to access information to supersede the current system, where states register firearms.
“If we can stop people getting access to illegal firearms, it is going to be harder for them to do these drive-by shootings and hold-up shops,” she said. “There is no point in the ACT, NSW or Queensland acting in isolation in these laws because where the weaker laws are is where people will target the illicit trade.”
Ms Smith said that Australia’s “disjointed and inconsistent approach” to firearms legislation is a public safety issue and one that must be addressed.
“It is a national disgrace that with twenty-two years since Port Arthur, we still don’t have a national firearms registry, that people can buy ammunition for weapons that they do not own, and ammunition can be imported for weapons that are illegal.
“The woeful legislation is making it very easy for dangerous weapons to fall into the hands of criminals. It must be stopped.
“It is clear that, for the safety of AFP officers and of the wider community, firearm regulation must be reassessed and reformed to form a more holistic safety net.”
Ms Smith said the policy is targeting illicit and criminal trade and will not to affect legal firearm owners.
“The people who are doing the right thing should not be punished for the people who are doing the wrong thing,” Ms Smith said. “This policy is about locking up crooks and not making it harder for the average joe citizen.”
AFPA said that under current legislation, a firearm owner who has a licence to possess a .22 calibre rifle can buy shotgun ammunition even if they are not licenced to own a shotgun.
The AFPA suggests that Section 65A of the NSW Firearms Act 1996 be incorporated into Federal law which stipulates that a licensed firearms dealer must not supply ammunition for any firearm to a person who is a holder of a license or permit for the firearm unless:
- A firearm that takes the ammunition is registered in the name of the person or the person is authorised by a permit to acquire a firearm that takes the ammunition, and
- The dealer has seen the current notice of registration issued for the firearm or the permit to acquire the firearm.