The ACT has no plans to fall in line with a NSW Government proposal to tighten gun ownership despite being home to more than 17,000 privately registered firearms.
Figures released by ACT Policing this week show there is one gun for every 22 residents but that number does not include illegal guns and firearms owned by police or members of the defence force.
ACT Policing could not provide The Sunday Canberra Times with figures on the number of illegal guns seized in the territory this year. But in August police seized a grenade and a number of guns during a raid on a Rivett home.Estimates put the number
of illegal guns in Australia at between 400,000 and 700,000, compared to about 2.6 million licensed firearms. And the theft of legal guns is feeding Canberra’s black market for firearms.
The NSW Government is planning to make it more difficult to buy and use a gun. It proposes to force unlicensed shooters to declare whether they have ever had a mental illness each time they go to a shooting range and will make it illegal for people convicted of sexual offences to use a firearm.
NSW Police Minister Michael Gallacher said the gun law review was necessary because of growing numbers of illegal guns on the streets.
But Attorney General Simon Corbell said the ACT Government had no plans to tighten laws around gun ownership while the NSW Government pushes for more stringent controls.
“The ACT Government has very strict laws regarding firearms and their use in the ACT,’’ Mr Corbell said.
“The rates of gun-related crime in the ACT are very low and there are no current plans to significantly reform gun laws in Canberra at this time.’’
Research on gun control by the ACT’s Member for Fraser Andrew Leigh was quoted in the United States after the latest mass shooting there claimed the lives of 26 people, including school children.
The paper examined the implications of the 1997 national gun buyback, established by then prime minister John Howard after the Port Arthur massacre in April 1996 in which 35 people were killed and found the buyback and the associated tightening of gun control laws saved about 200 lives annually.