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No deal on government’s mandatory gun smuggling penalties

The Australian Government has again failed to pass legislation to lock in mandatory minimum gaol sentences for illegal firearms trafficking. The Criminal Code Amendment (Firearms Trafficking) Bill 2017 has appeared in various forms since 2014, but the main aim has been to introduce new mandatory minimum sentences and increase maximum penalties for firearms-trafficking offences, in an attempt to deter criminals from illegally importing firearms.

Both the Australian Labor Party and the Coalition have hit out at each other for playing politics with this issue. Labor has called on the Coalition to heed advice from the Law Council of Australia, who has said that mandatory sentencing does not work. Justice Minister Michael Keenan labelled the lack of support as “a vote in support of criminals.”

The SSAA cautiously welcomed the proposal when it was first floated, heralding the government’s shift in focus from legitimate firearm owners to the criminal misuse of firearms. However, we acknowledge that there could be unintended consequences.

The Bill will now return to the Senate.

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