Life sentences for trafficking firearms passes the House of Representatives

Press release from the Hon Jason Clare MP, Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Justice, Minister for Defence Materiel

The House of Representatives today passed legislation to create a new aggravated offence for trafficking firearms, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, and to strengthen laws that target the unexplained wealth of criminals.

This is part of an important reform package that targets two key enablers of serious and organised crime - the money they make and the firearms they use.

“These laws will make the maximum penalty for trafficking in firearms the same as the maximum penalty for trafficking in drugs,” Mr Clare said. “It sends a very strong message that trafficking large numbers of illegal firearms is just as dangerous and deadly as trafficking large amounts of illegal drugs, and the same maximum penalty should apply.”

This is part of a package of reforms that Minister Clare took to the Standing Council on Police and Emergency Management in June last year. This includes:

  • The establishment of a National Firearms Register;
  • The expansion of the Australian Ballistics Identification Network nationwide;
  • The development of a National Firearms Identification Database;
  • Firearms training by United States specialists for Australian law enforcement;
  • The establishment of a Firearms Intelligence and Targeting Team inside Customs;
  • Embedding Customs and Border Protection officers in relevant organised crime, gang or firearm squads in States and Territories;
  • A national campaign on unlicensed firearms;
  • The expansion of the Australian Crime Commission’s tracing capability; and
  • Annual national intelligence assessments of the illegal firearms market.

“These reforms are designed to tackle the illegal firearms market from every angle - to seize firearms, to break the code of silence, to improve our ability to trace illegal firearms, to strengthen the laws and harden the border,” Mr Clare said.

The Bill also includes a range of improvements to unexplained wealth laws as recommended by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Law Enforcement.

“Serious and organised crime is driven by money. Organised criminals are more afraid of losing their money than they are of going to jail.”

“If we are serious about tackling organised crime, one of the key things we have to do is rip their assets off them.”

Unexplained wealth laws reverse the onus of proof so criminals have to prove their wealth was obtained legally. It makes it easier to confiscate their assets and is one of the most effective ways to bring down organised criminals.

“These laws will help us to catch criminals. Just like with Al Capone - you can catch criminals by following the money,” Mr Clare said.

 

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