Gun Theft Skyrockets Over Ten Years

The number of firearms stolen nationally has almost doubled over a 10-year period, based on national stolen firearms statistics collated by Gun Control Australia (GCA) obtained via freedom of information.

This is the first time a decade worth of national stolen firearms statistics has been collated.

Please download GCA’s report on ‘Firearms Theft in Australia 2007 -2017’.

The figures show in the last ten years the number of firearms stolen annually has increased from just over 1,700 a year in 2007-08 to nearly 3,300 in 2016 -17, with the total number stolen over the 10-year period reaching close to 27,000.

GCA states this figure would only be a proportion of the true number of guns stolen because of under-reporting of gun theft and a non-existent national database system to collate and trace stolen firearms data.

New South Wales has the largest number of stolen firearms at 6,651, with 761 stolen over the past year (2016-2017).

In Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia the number of firearms stolen has more than doubled over 10 years with Victoria having the largest increase of 123 per cent.

Tasmania with only 2% of Australia’s population accounts for 8% of gun thefts.

Hunting rifles and shotguns (known as category A & B firearms – the least restricted firearm category) continue to make up the largest proportion of firearms stolen, followed by handguns.

The majority of firearms stolen are taken from the homes of legal gun owners. The majority are never recovered and the majority will be diverted onto the illicit gun market.

GCA is concerned about the advances in design and technology of recreational hunting rifles and shotguns (category A and B firearms) with a variety of rapid-style hunting shotguns now widely available, including the Adler A110 six shot which is a category B weapon.

Category A and B are the least restricted firearm category, and the most widely owned firearm in Australia. GCA claims that such firearms would be lucrative on the illicit market because of the weapons fire power.

Samantha Lee, Chair of GCA said, “The illicit gun market is being fueled by guns stolen from the homes of legal gun owners.”

“Gun theft is a problem that has long been ignored by both State and Federal governments. So much concern is expressed about the illicit gun market, yet governments give so little attention to the impact theft is having on gun trafficking. It remains a primary source for guns feeding the illicit market”, she added.

“Gun theft is a product of inadequate storage requirements. Poor storage will not only see an increase in gun theft, but could potentially mean an increase in accidently injury or death and guns being used more widely in suicides. It’s time for a wholesale tightening of regulations. Electronic monitoring is best practice and we must introduce this for all firearms.

Roland Browne, Vice President and Tasmanian spokesperson for GCA states, “Again, Tasmania is an embarrassment. With 2% of the country’s population, we boast 8% of Australia’s gun theft. It is a significant problem.

Professor Charles Watson, GCA spokesperson for Western Australia, states, “Western Australia has seen 115 per cent increase in gun theft over the past decade and nearly a 50 per cent increase over the past year.”