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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:
http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Legal_and_Constitutional_Affairs/Illicit_firearms/Submissions

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!

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