Coalition delivers on election promise to target illegal firearms

The SSAA Legislative Action (SSAA-LA) department has welcomed the Federal Government’s investment in more resources for the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to target the threat of illegal firearms trafficking. In announcing the funding, the government also acknowledged the SSAA-LA’s long-held concerns that organised crime syndicates are increasingly peddling firearms unchecked via international mail and the dark web.

Recently reappointed Justice Minister Michael Keenan announced the government would deliver on its pre-election pledge and invest $25.4 million over three years into the AFP to “boost intelligence collection on international firearms trafficking and...identify previously unknown links between firearms traffickers and their suppliers, customers and illegal activities.”

Announcing the investment at the AFP-led National Forensics Rapid Lab (NFRL) in Sydney, Minister Keenan said the funding would “enhance the AFP’s capacity to detect and seize illegal firearms and target the criminal syndicates that peddle them.”

“We know that modern technologies such as the darkweb are enabling organised criminals to expand their reach globally and exert significant influence over Australia’s black market,” he said. “Now, through the Coalition Government’s investment the NFRL will be expanded to crack down on the illegal firearms market, particularly through the international mail system, including the forensic examination of firearms, firearms parts and accessories, and the establishment of a new team of specialised forensic scientists and criminal intelligence analysts.”

The SSAA-LA’s Kate Fantinel said it was refreshing to see our newly elected officials address the real problem of the illicit firearms market, rather than resort to more onerous restrictions on the law-abiding firearms community who pose no threat to public safety. “Time and time again it has proved to be an unlicensed person with an unregistered firearm committing crimes, not sporting shooters or recreational hunters,” said Kate. “It is pleasing to see the government start off on the right foot with the nation’s one million licensed firearm owners by investing much-needed resources in targeting the real threat posed by the illicit firearms market, instead of focusing on policing our legally obtained, registered and approved firearms.”

The SSAA has previously highlighted to both sides of government the issue of illegal firearm imports coming in through the post and unchecked cargo, along with the rise in use of the dark web for sourcing firearms. Going forward, the SSAA-LA will continue to represent the interests of firearm owners to the government and encourage increased resources for our authorities to tackle organised crime groups who deal in illegal firearms.

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