SUA Respond to Gun-related Violence Senate Inquiry

SUA has been invited before the Senate Inquiry into Gun-Related Violence in Canberra.

You will remember the long-winded-named Senate Inquiry into the ability of Australian law enforcement authorities to eliminate gun-related violence in the community?

SUQ and SUA both put in submissions and as a result, SUA was invited to appear before the inquiry in Canberra. There were two other public hearings in other states SUNSW was invited to appear before the one in Sydney. We don’t really know what the criteria were that prompted the invitations. We would like to think it was the quality of the submissions, but it’s probably something much more mundane than that – maybe because SUA, which is headquartered in Queensland, had no other opportunity.

In any case, president Graham Park attended the hearing and presented the views of the members of Shooters Union as a national organisation. As a result of that, SUA received a “Question on Notice” from the Inquiry. We think all of the other shooting organisation presenters did too, so they weren’t just picking on Shooters Union.
The interesting thing about the question is that it seems to misrepresent the submission from which it quotes The submission is from the Australian Institute of Criminology. Whether the apparent misrepresentation was deliberate or the result of simply not reading it properly is not known. The question relates to page 12 of the submission (number 76 on the list) which can be viewed by following the link:

The Senate Inquiry’s Question on Notice:

The evidence the Shooters Union gave to the committee emphasised the compliance of their members. The Australian Institute of Criminology’s submission states firearms were stolen from an approved firearms safe in 58% of reported incidences, and a quarter of all gun owners were determined by police not to be storage compliant. Does the Shooters Union dispute these figures or have an explanation for them?

Shooters Union Australia’s Response to the Senate Inquiry into the eliminate of gun-related violence.

  1. The AIC submission states:
    1. Firearms were stolen from an approved firearm safe or other secure receptacle in 58 percent (n=1,493) of reported firearm incidents in 2005-09 (see Figure 6), although not all these receptacles were determined to be secure at the time of the theft (ie unlocked, easily breached or the key was located by the offender). Firearms had been left in vehicles in just under 10 percent (n=236) of incidents and in 11 percent (n=269) of incidents firearms were described as unsecured or in the open. Firearms not stored appropriately at the time of the theft comprised almost a fifth (18%) of all reported stolen firearms during 200509 (Bricknell 2010); and
    2. On average, over a quarter of firearm owners (27%, n=705) were determined by police not to be storage compliant.
  2. Point (b) above relates specifically to those owners who reported a theft.
  3. It is therefore incorrect to assert, as this QoN seemingly does, that a quarter of all gun owners were determined by police not to be storage compliant.
  4. Based on the AIC submission, over the five-year period studied, a total of 705 owners who reported a theft were not storage compliant. On average, over the five-year period studied, this equates to 141 owners per year who were non-compliant.
  5. The AIC report does not provide a particularly detailed breakdown of how many of those non-compliant owners were private licensees, businesses, or otherwise (see p.12 of AIC submission), and cross-tabulated details as to storage compliance by the location of theft are only provided for a selection of examples (e.g., theft from a vehicle, theft from private premises).
  6. In addition, the precise way in which storage compliant has been defined for each recorded theft in each jurisdiction is not stipulated; variations and inconsistencies in how non-compliance is assessed may generate erroneous results and artificially elevate estimated non-compliance figures.
  7. A recent decision from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal illustrates this possibility. In the matter of Hijazi v Commissioner of Police, NSW Police NSWCATAD 148, NSW Police alleged that the licensee was non-compliant with firearm storage requirements for Category A and B licences, because the licensee did not have bars on the windows of their residence. This assertion was dismissed by the Tribunal.
  8. With these points noted, and for the purpose of hypothetical illustration, we will now proceed on the assumption that each of the 705 non-compliant owners over the five-year period represents a private licensee who was not properly storing their firearm/s.
  9. Based on law enforcement agency estimates of the number of legally owned firearms in Australia, which typically place the number of licensed firearms owners at around 750,000, a total of 705 non-compliant owners equates to around 0.09 per cent or a little less than 1 in 1000 of the total number of licensees in Australia.
  10. Considered on an average yearly basis, rather than an accumulated five-year total, these figures are even lower (just under 0.02 per cent of total licensees).
  11. In addition, the extreme rarity of firearms theft (which has been quantified in other submissions made to the Inquiry, as well as borne out by various witnesses during public hearings) demonstrates that the experience of theft is simply not representative of the experience of the overwhelming majority of Australian licencees.
  12. Those licensees who experience theft represent an extremely small subset of the total pool of licensees.
  13. From this, it follows that the experience of theft due to non-compliance is even more unrepresentative of firearms ownership in Australia, with those persons constituting a fractional sub-set (licensees who experience theft and are non-compliant) of an already very tiny sub-set (licensees who experience theft).
  14. Shooters Union Australia (SUA) members comprise a representative sample of all Australian firearms licensees.
  15. Therefore, based on the above facts, it is correct to state that SUA members being a representative sample are overwhelmingly compliant.

The Inquiry was headed by a Greens Senator and has been given an extension of time for their report until 26th March 2015 (which is a fairly impressive extension). We think they were surprised by how many submissions they received and how good they were – many of our members are responsible for that! Congratulations and thank you!

SUA President responds to Federal Senate Inquiry into Gun-Related Violence

Senate Inquiry into Gun-related Violence


Senators, Thank you for the invitation to participate.

18 years ago Australia began a huge social experiment.

With the stated intent and hope that this experiment in highly restrictive laws would make Australia a safer country using the federally driven National Firearms Agreement (NFA).

So began one of the largest mass confiscations of private property in the history of any modern western democracy, followed by an ongoing radical shift in private firearms ownership and law enforcement focus.

However, in the 18 years since that time, all objective and credible evidence strongly suggests that not only has this huge social experiment failed to make any significant difference in violence levels in Australia, BUT that it has likely reduced the ability of Australian police agencies to combat violence (and especially gun-related violence) in our communities.

Since 1996, New Zealand, Canada and the USA have all experienced a lowering of homicides equal to or substantially greater than (and in the case of the USA, almost double the drop of) Australia, and NONE of those nations have felt the need to enact such restrictive legislation on legitimate firearms use and ownership.

In fact both New Zealand AND Canada have now totally abandoned the concept of any type of long arms registration due to cost explosions and ineffectiveness brought on by technological advances.

The concept of government registries and manually generated PTA’s is nothing more than a holdover from a time before electronic data retention and is not only completely ineffective but incredibly expensive to maintain.

However, here in Australia the vast majority of state and federal law enforcement resources and strategy are now (and have been for 18 years) mistakenly focused on spending massive amounts of their time and efforts monitoring and restricting the activities just one sector of society, the licensed firearm owner.

Which every statistic, every example, shows are responsible for almost NO gun related violence.

The NFA experiment has diverted massive financial and strategic resources away from combatting violent crime and towards bureaucratic micromanagement and control of farmers, competitive target shooters, antique collectors and other licensed firearm owners, (a grouping of arguably the least likely people in the nation to commit any type of crime).

This massive diversion of police strategy and resources away from active crime fighting and into bureaucratic roles has greatly diminished police abilities to focus on the more than 95% of violent crimes not committed by legitimate firearm owners.

This experiment has already cost Australia potentially more than $2 Billion so far and continues to cost as much as $340 million more each year in combined ongoing costs.

(approx. $100 mill maintain registries, PTAs, licences etc + 60 mill++ in physical audits and safe inspections police costs +$180 Mill in feral animal damage – total feral damage is estimated at least $720 mill annually and has risen dramatically since reduction in firearms access in 96 , we used a minimal 25% of the annual cost as being related to legal changes)

At a time of limited budgets and reduced funding for education, mental health and other critical programs, surely Australian governments have a responsibility to seriously consider reforming and streamlining this deeply flawed social experiment.

No matter how well intentioned any legislation may be, it needs to stand up to the simple test of “is it effective”.

If we really want to assist law enforcement to radically lower violence of all types in our community then we should redirect law enforcement back to focusing on violent crime and criminals.

Thank you.

Senate Enquiry into Semi-automatic Handgun Ban

The federal government has recently announced a Senate inquiry into “The ability of Australian law enforcement authorities to eliminate gun-related violence in the community”

We consider this to potentially be the worst threat to firearm owners since the Howard government gun-grab. One of the terms of reference identifies “The effect banning semi-automatic handguns would have on the number of illegally held firearms in Australia”. Obviously the effect of banning semi-automatic handguns would have a similar effect to banning vehicles with automatic transmissions. The ban would remove lots of vehicles from the road, but would it have an effect on the road toll? The same correlation is true of semi-automatic handguns. The road toll has nothing whatever to do with the type of gearbox a vehicle has, any more than the type of handgun action has to do with criminal intent and/or violence in the community.

Sounds laughable? Maybe, but this is not a laughing matter. We are facing a very real and imminent threat and we need as many submissions as possible.

Have a look at the link below and consider putting in a submission of your own. Obviously, we and most, if not all, the other shooting bodies will be doing their own submissions, but you can help too!

We are in the process of preparing ours and if you would like some ideas of what to put in yours, we’ll be sending out some information as soon as we are able. In the meantime, you might like to start on something yourself.


Send us a copy when you’re finished but please note that the deadline is 15th August.

Gun laws fall short in war on crime

This article was first published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 29/10/2005. It was written by Robert Wainwright.

Gun ownership is rising and there is no definitive evidence that a decade of restrictive firearms laws has done anything to reduce weapon-related crime, according to NSW’s top criminal statistician.

The latest figures show a renaissance in firearm ownership in the state – a 25 per cent increase in three years. And the head of the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research, Don Weatherburn, said falls in armed robberies and abductions in NSW in the past few years had more to do with the heroin drought and good policing than firearms legislation.

Even falls in the homicide rate, which have been steady, began long before the gun law debate provoked by the Port Arthur massacre in 1996.

Nationwide, the proportion of robberies involving weapons is the same as it was in 1996, while the proportion of abductions involving weapons is higher, the latest Australian Bureau of Statistics fiures reveal. They show a mixed result in firearms-related offences since the mid-1990s. There has been a fall in firearms murders (from 32 to 13 per cent) but a rise (19 to 23 per cent) in attempted murders involving guns.

“I would need to see more convincing evidence than there is to be able to say that gun laws have had any effect,” Dr Weatherburn said. “The best that could be said for the tougher laws is there has been no other mass killing using firearms [since Port Arthur].

“There has been a drop in firearm-related crime, particularly in homicide, but it began long before the new laws and has continued on afterwards. I don’t think anyone really understands why. A lot of people assume that the tougher laws did it, but I would need more specific, convincing evidence …

“There has been a more specific … problem with handguns, which rose up quite rapidly and then declined. The decline appears to have more to do with the arrest of those responsible than the new laws. As soon as the heroin shortage hit, the armed robbery rate came down. I don’t think it was anything to do with the tougher firearm laws.”

The Shooters Party MP John Tingle agrees with this analysis but has decided to retire from politics next April because he is frustrated in his attempts to prevent further restrictions, even though the number of registered guns in NSW has jumped from 516,468 to 648,369 since 2002.

“If the laws had worked there would be much less illegal gun crime … we are continuing this perception that if you tighten firearm laws you are going to control firearm crime, even though the opposite is true. Restrictive laws against legitimate ownership and use do nothing to stop gun-related crime because only law-abiding citizens will adhere to laws.”

The Police Commissioner, Ken Moroney, supports the laws irrespective of the statistics. “I don’t think the laws have been designed to eliminate every firearm off the face of the Earth … but it has achieved proper registration, storage and more effective licensing. These measures have all been successful and John Tingle’s role should be acknowledged … he is a man of objectivity and fairness. He hasn’t been an advocate for advocacy sake.”