Calls from the Australian Greens Party for the Federal Government to establish a national firearms registry serve as a reminder that the extreme fringe group is completely irrelevant when it comes to gun laws. The idea of a national firearms registry is not new; in fact, plans for state- and territory-based firearm registries to be linked up are already well underway.
In announcing the unoriginal idea, Senator Lee Rhiannon shamelessly adopted more fear-mongering tactics to try and shock the Australian public into thinking gun crime is somehow caused by legally owned firearms. The fact is, every single registered firearm in the hands of a licensed firearm owner is vetted, approved and constantly checked by police. Strict storage requirements must be adhered to and police can inspect the firearm at any time.
A National Firearms Interface (NFI) was first raised by the then-Justice Minister Jason Clare in 2012. It has been budgeted for and listed in the annual reports of the Australian Crime Commission. The NFI was recently recommended following inquiries into the Sydney Siege. State and territory governments were advised to conduct urgent reviews of their registries ahead of the official NFI launch.
The major issue when it comes to a national firearms registry is that of junk data. Paper-based firearms registries have long relied on accurate data entry and under-resourced police to keep the information up-to-date. There are many anecdotal stories of police inspectors querying the location of a firearm, only to be told it was sold some years ago with proof of sale provided.
Spending millions of taxpayers’ dollars tracking known firearms that are in the hands of law-abiding citizens will do nothing to stop Australia’s problem with illegal firearms. Greens politicians should focus their efforts on coming up with evidence-based policies that will provide tangible public safety benefits, instead of constantly targeting Australia’s one million legitimate firearm owners.