Stricter control of guns is needed

Stricter control of guns is needed

Australia had taken a tough stance on firearms following the The Port Arthur massacre in April 1996 where 35 people were killed and 23 wounded by one man with two semi-automatic rifles. It was one of the deadliest mass shootings in Australian history. Fundamental changes of gun control laws within Australia followed the incident with no mass shootings happening since that date. The case is regarded to be amongst the most notable massacres in Australia’s history. With recent shootings in Australia it is time to have stricter control.

However, the NSW government has begun critical talks on gun reform following the fatal shooting of two children by their father in Sydney in early July. Hard questions need to be asked how the children’s estranged father was able to legally get hold of the gun. The state government is considering new laws to help improve communication between the family court, gun clubs, doctors and police.

But how was a person able to legally buy a powerful handgun while involved in a drawn-out custody battle with the children’s mother? The attack comes as the Australian Bureau of Statistics released new data showing that around one in four NSW prisoners is a family or domestic violence offender.

The father was believed to have been rejected from several pistol clubs before he was granted a “commissioner’s permit” from the NSW Firearms Registry. It’s understood the permit, which is granted by a delegate of the NSW Police commissioner, allowed him access to train at an Indoor Shooting Centre.

In an age of data and cross communication between Government and other departments it is concerning that matters of concern were overlooked when the father made his application. A registry, run by NSW Police, had access to all police intelligence data and a detailed review of the father should have been completed. Existing firearms regulation and background checks should have prevented the tragedy in Sydney.

How can a man obtain a firearms licence after being twice denied one on the basis of character? What we can be certain of is that the system failed and two children have been murdered.

It is essential that the NSW Police Minister and Police Commissioner review changes to gun laws including how to improve information exchange between police, government agencies and mental health assessments of firearm applicants. All states and territories should do the same.                                                             

Editor in Chief           



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