Gun control becomes NSW election issue as firearm ownership reaches milestone

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Gun control becomes NSW election issue as firearm ownership reaches milestone

Updated

March 10, 2019 01:03:27

Data showing NSW has a fast-growing appetite for gun ownership has fuelled a battle between the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party and the Greens just a fortnight from the state election.

Key points:

  • New data on gun ownership in NSW shows 236,588 people now own firearms, with an average of four guns each
  • The Greens say this is a warning against voting for the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers (SFF) Party in the upcoming election
  • The SFF say they only support law-abiding gun owners and the Greens are just “throwing mud”

There are now more than 1 million registered guns in NSW, and 90,000 have been registered in the past two years alone, according to NSW Firearms Registry data released under freedom of information laws.

That means there is now one registered firearm for every eight NSW citizens, according to Gun Control Australia (GCA).

The figures show one gun owner in Eastgardens has 305 registered firearms, while one Mosman resident owns 285, and one in North Sydney has 268 in their possession.

GCA, which released the data, said the numbers were worrying.

“It paints a picture of significant concern at the rising number of guns and the introduction of greater gun culture in NSW than we see as being healthy,” vice chair Roland Browne said.

The Greens also said the report was alarming and the party is using it as a warning against votes for the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers (SFF) Party.

“There are literally dozens [of people] with more than 100 guns — these are private arsenals right in the middle of our suburbs — there is no reason for anyone in Sydney to have the gun numbers of that order,” Greens MLC David Shoebridge said.

Mr Shoebridge said he was concerned gun regulations could be watered down because the SFF had a better chance of getting another member elected to Parliament following Friday’s ballot draw.

“We have seen a push driven largely by a minority of pro-gun MPs in the NSW Parliament to make gun ownership a normal matter, to get back to where we were before we had major gun control following the Port Arthur massacre,” Mr Shoebridge said.

“The major parties in Parliament have gone soft on gun control and the matter is only going to get worse if we have more Shooters MPs.”

Knives kill far more than guns: SFF

But SFF MLC Robert Borsak said the Greens were just grandstanding ahead of the March 23 vote.

“The reality is the election is coming up; they’re not being noticed, they’re not getting any traction,” he said.

“Now they’re trying to throw a little mud, but the mud won’t stick because the SFF only supports law-abiding firearms owners.”

Mr Borsak said those people with hundreds of guns in their possession were most likely collectors with antique guns that needed to be registered to be of value.

However, he noted many collectors used their guns for recreational shooting.

“Those collectors may be shooting them, they may be shooting them in competitions for example,” he said.

The MP argued people were much more likely to be killed with a knife than with a gun in NSW.

He also said it was “highly irresponsible” for the lobby group to publish locations where there was a high concentration of gun ownership.

“It’s the sort of thing you’d expect from someone who actually wants to encourage criminal activity, encourage home invasions,” he said.

But Mr Browne rejected that.

“Well, most shooters tend to boast about their firearm ownership anyway, and there’s nothing irresponsible about it — it’s publicly available information … people’s addresses haven’t been given.”

The GCA has several demands ahead of the election, one being a ban on political donations from the arms industry and gun lobby groups.

Topics:

government-and-politics,

elections,

state-elections,

political-parties,

nsw

First posted

March 09, 2019 15:09:54

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