Mandatory sentencing for firearms trafficking back in the spotlight

Federal Parliament is again considering introducing mandatory minimum sentences and maximum penalties for firearms and firearms parts trafficking within, into and out of Australia. The Criminal Code Amendment (Firearms Trafficking) Bill 2015 would see a mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment for five years and maximum penalties of imprisonment for 20 years or a fine of 5000 penalty units, or both for such offences. This Bill is separate to the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Powers, Offences and Other Measures) Bill 2015, which also called for mandatory sentences as reported by the SSAA in 2015.

The Conservatives are pushing the Bill, which failed to pass Parliament in its original form twice now, with Ian Goodenough MP, Natasha Griggs MP and John Cobb MP speaking in support of the Bill. “I strongly support this legislation which effectively limits access to firearms by criminals yet does not infringe upon access to firearms by legitimate persons for lawful purposes...I am strongly in support of legislation that will be effective in combating the illegitimate use of firearms whilst promoting and protecting the rights and liberties of lawful, legitimate users of firearms,” Mr Goodenough told the Parliament following the second reading of the Bill on February 10.

Labor Shadow Minister for Justice David Feeney rejected the idea, saying that although Labor “supports the government's intentions to protect the community from gun-related violence”, it does not support mandatory minimum sentences. “The Australian Labor Party maintains its position that the introduction of mandatory minimum sentences for those convicted of firearms trafficking offences should be avoided. That is on the basis that the Australian Labor Party is opposed in principle and in all circumstances to the imposition of mandatory minimum sentences,” he said.

A third reading of the Criminal Code Amendment (Firearms Trafficking) Bill 2015 will take place in the coming months. Full transcripts of the second reading of the debate are available online.

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