ABS import figures debunk prohibitionists’ gun claims

A review of comprehensive Australian Bureau of Statistics data for 1996, 1997 and 1998 covering the importation of pistols and revolvers from 23 countries into Australia indicates clearly that handgun imports for non-government use have fallen by about half over three years.

Thousands of semi-automatic pistols have been brought into the country for various police contracts. These are the imports appearing to inflate the figures. Once these are factored out, the number of pistols and revolvers arriving in Australia for domestic non-government use is significantly down.

“It is amazing that politicians and some media commentators still blindly accept the gun prohibitionists’ misinterpretation of gun-related facts,” said Mr Gary Fleetwood, a spokesperson for SSAA National. “It has suited their case not to tell the whole story.”

The data suggest that during 1998 more than 8000 semi-automatic pistols were imported from Austria for the New South Wales and Queensland Police services alone.

Australian import figures total (Calendar Year ABS figures):
1996:     9591
1997:     7358
1998:     12,601

Import figures of handguns (Glock) from Austria (Calendar Year ABS figures):
1997:     3519
1998:     8080

Contract No. 970/1142 for the importation of and purchase of 13,000 Glock pistols was awarded to the NSW Police Service in March 1997. Cost of each pistol was $AU351.

Contract No. E540 for the importation and purchase of 6000 Glock pistols was awarded to the Queensland Police Service in April 1998. Cost of each was similar to the NSW Police price.

Information received by the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia indicates that 8000 Glock pistols have been issued to the New South Wales Police Service and that the Queensland Police Service have taken possession of 1500. Western Australian police have been rearming with Smith & Wesson semi-automatic pistols over several years.

It is quite obvious that the alleged ‘flooding’ of Australia with high magazine-capacity semi-automatic handguns has been because of importation by police.

“This Association again calls upon politicians to refer to accurate data and facts when deliberating upon gun issues - the rushed response after Port Arthur led to the expenditure of half a billion dollars for no gain. The gun buy-back has not made Australia safer - that’s a fact”, Mr Fleetwood said.

“The third anniversary of Port Arthur is nearly upon us and it will be time again to reflect upon the death of innocent people by an individual who should never have been in possession of firearms. It is also an appropriate time to recognise that any future gun laws, which determine the use and possession of firearms, should be the result of careful deliberation and not an accommodating response to the culture of gun prohibitionists who distribute misinformation.” Mr Fleetwood said.

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