Following reports that the number of registered firearms and firearm owners in NSW is fast approaching pre-Port Arthur levels, Greens NSW MP David Shoebridge has called for the government to take action to reverse the creeping gun culture in NSW.
“It is time to put the brakes on the emerging gun culture in NSW, “Mr Shoebridge said.
“The Port Arthur tragedy led to significant gun law reform across Australia in 1996. However successive state governments have weakened the gun laws in order to secure the votes of the Shooters Party in the Upper House.”
In 2011 the total number of people with a firearms licence in NSW jumped to 188,149, which nearly matches the pre-Port Arthur level of 200,000.
“The prime policy agenda of the Shooters Party is getting more guns into the hands of more people and these figures prove they are delivering on this,” Mr Shoebridge said.
“Not only is the number of registered firearms increasing, so too are the number of guns per registered shooter.”
In NSW, the average number of guns owned by a licensee is now five.
“There may be valid reasons for an individual to own 1 or 2 guns, but what we are seeing is people developing small arsenals. It’s dangerous, unnecessary and it has to stop,” Mr Shoebridge said.
According to a 2006 study, the number of gunshot deaths in Australia per year was halved after legislation was introduced in 1996 in response to the mass shootings in Port Arthur, Tasmania.
The federal gun buy-back scheme lead to the destruction of over 700,000 privately owned weapons and a stricter licensing scheme.
On semi-automatic rifles and shotguns, the then Prime Minister, John Howard, said: “There is no legitimate interest served in my view by the free availability in this country of weapons of this kind.”
By Jason Marshall