New data reveals alarming proliferation of guns in New South Wales
The number of guns in New South Wales has now broken through the 1 million-mark, new data obtained under access to information laws reveals. The number of registered firearms now totals 1,007,786 – an increase of nearly 90,000 in just over two years.
With a population approaching 8 million, this means there is now one registered firearm for every eight NSW citizens. The overwhelming majority are hunting rifles and shotguns, including lever-action shotguns.
New data revealed in report launched today
The damning analysis of State gun laws is revealed in a new ‘NSW Report Card’ released today by Gun Control Australia, along with 14 recommendations for the major parties to put community safety first in the lead up to the State election.
The Report Card contains exclusive new data on gun ownership, gun crime (including domestic violence), stolen firearms, and gun lobby political donations.
“Many people don’t realise that our world leading gun laws are being dismantled as a result of decades of pressure from the well-funded and powerful gun lobby,” Gun Control Australia President Sam Lee said.
There are 100 individuals across NSW who own private gun arsenals with more than 70 firearms. One person (not a collector or gun dealer) in Sydney’s south-east owns a huge private cache of 305 guns. A resident in Mosman, on Sydney’s lower north shore, owns 285 guns.
“The alarming proliferation of guns is a direct result of politicians doing the bidding of the gun lobby, with the result that it is now all too easy to get a gun in NSW.”
“As gun numbers increase, community safety is being compromised. Politicians need to remember their decisions can have a devastating real-world impact on the lives of ordinary people.”
Breaches of the National Firearms Agreement
The analysis also reveals that NSW is the worst offender in terms of non-compliance with the National Firearms Agreement – the landmark pact all states and territories signed up for after the 1996 Port Arthur Massacre.
“NSW gun laws breach the National Firearms Agreement 11 times, including by allowing silencers, removing the need to provide a reason to acquire additional firearms, and having no limits on ammunition purchases,” Ms Lee said.
“We are concerned that community safety is being compromised as a result of backroom political deals done to appease minor parties, which are out of step with the overwhelming majority of Australians who want to see sensible and uniform gun restrictions.”
The increase in the overall number of firearms is being driven in part by loose restrictions on recreational hunting, which make up around two-thirds of all genuine reasons in New South Wales.
In breach of the National Firearms Agreement which allows only one ‘genuine reason’ as the basis for a licence application (proof of permission from a land owner), NSW laws allow recreational hunting applicants to choose from a number of ‘genuine reasons’.
“We recognise that certain people within the community, including livestock farmers, have a legitimate reason to own a firearm. However, illegal hunting by inexperienced recreational shooters poses a risk to animal welfare and community safety, including rural landowners who have not given permission for shooting to occur on their property.”
“Despite government efforts such as the Shut the gate on illegal hunting program, the problem continues to be a major scourge on rural communities. There is a dire need for better regulation of recreational hunting licences.”
Major parties should prioritise community safety
The Report Card calls on both major parties to put community safety first by:
- Limiting the number of guns per licence holder to two each, save for special need or genuine collectors.
- Requiring recreational hunting licence applicants to renew their licence annually.
- Asking the Auditor-General to conduct a performance audit into the regulation of recreational hunting and hunting clubs in NSW.
- Requiring the NSW Firearms Registry to conduct mandatory annual audits of all gun clubs to ensure legislative compliance.
- Establishing an information sharing system between the NSW Firearm Registry and the Family Law Courts.
- Asking the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) to conduct research into gun ownership and storage and the use of guns in domestic violence.
- Placing semi-automatic handguns in the same firearm category as semi-automatic long arms.
- Making it an offence for people with a blood alcohol reading greater than .05 to carry a firearm.
- Removing the right to shoot unlicensed at gun clubs.
- Removing minors permits so that only people aged 18 years and over may possess and/or own a firearm.
- Banning donations from the arms industry and gun lobby groups to political parties and candidates.
- Refusing to preference parties advocating for the further loosening of gun laws, including the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, and One Nation.
- Bringing NSW gun laws into full compliance with the National Firearms Agreement.
- Ensuring the NSW Firearms Registry has the funds and resources to implement the recommendations outlined in the NSW Auditor-General’s Report, ‘Firearms regulation’, released on 28 February 2019.
We have today written to both major parties calling on them to adopt our policy positions, and we will be sharing their responses (or non-responses) the week before the NSW election.
About Gun Control Australia
Gun Control Australia is the representative body for the majority of Australians who support uniform, effective and sensible firearm legislation and policy. While we recognise that there is a place for firearms for certain purposes, we believe our community deserves to live without fear of gun violence, and we need to be vigilant to ensure Australia’s gun laws remain current and effective.