ACT News

Gun ownership increases with more than 19,000 firearms in the ACT

Gun ownership has risen 3 per cent in the past year, with one firearm registered for every 20 residents in the ACT.

There are now 583 extra firearms belonging to 197 more licensees in the capital than there were at the start of 2015.  

A pistol revolver.
A pistol revolver. Photo: istock

ACT Policing figures have revealed 19,200 guns were legally registered to 6083 licensees, about three an owner, at the end of November last year.

That was a jump from 18,617 guns that were registered to 5886 licensees in January 2015. 

Sporting Shooters Association of Australia ACT president David True said the increase in licence holders had been reflected in the club's membership numbers, which were at about 3700 members, up from 3500 in January last year.  

He said about 30 prospective gun owners went through the organisation's firearm safety awareness course, which is a requirement for obtaining a firearm licence, every month. 


Mr True said he thought the gun ownership figures would have been higher given the number of sporting shooters in the ACT.

"When you look at Sporting Shooters members in NSW I think there's about 53,000 and nationally there's about 177,000."

Gun Control Australia vice-president Roland Browne said licensees having access to multiple guns in urban areas was always a concern. 

"The more guns there are in the hands of the community, the more guns there are available for committing gun crimes and gun suicides," he said.

"The less guns there are, the less gun crime and less gun misuse."

Mr Browne said he would like to see a decrease in the number of guns and licence holders across the country. 

He said a nationwide jump in firearms and licence holders in the past decade was the result of a push from gun lobby groups to "Americanise" the country's gun culture.

"There has been a gradual increase in the number of gun licences across Australia and in the ACT and in the number of guns per shooter across Australia and the ACT.

"Guns are a part of life in America and they want it to be the same here."

The police figures showed 51 recorded crimes in the ACT involved a gun in 2015. Thirteen of those offences related to the possession or use of a firearm, nine were linked to a robbery and eight were connected to an assault or burglary. 

Police said they confiscated 259 firearms in 2015, with 107 of those seized in the final three months of the year.

That was a jump from 176 guns seized in 2014, which was an increase of 58 per cent from the previous year. 

Seven gun licences were withdrawn and police cancelled 17 licences in 2015.

Mr True said most ACT licensees used their guns for recreational hunting and target shooting and he felt registered firearm owners were unfairly maligned in community conversations about gun crime. 

"As far as people doing the wrong thing with firearms I think they should be prosecuted to the nth degree, and as legal, law-abiding firearms owners we all agree.

"As soon as something happens, the honest-law-abiding shooters cop it in the neck."

Last year, NSW Police figures revealed gun ownership in regional towns on the fringe of the territory had surged by close to 25 per cent in the past five years. 

Gun ownership in the Bywong and Bungendore region increased by 27.4 per cent while the number of licensed firearms in the greater Goulburn region increased by 23.3 per cent.

In Captains Flat, registered guns increased by 18.1 per cent with 417 licensed in May – or one every two people.

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