Guns of anarchy - bikie gangs targeted for illicit imports

Organised crime groups such as outlaw motorcycle gangs have been singled out for importing illicit wares including firearms by the Federal Government in a move welcomed by the SSAA.

Announcing that 81 bikie gang members or associates have had their visas cancelled or refused for their involvement in organised crime, it appears that the government is finally acknowledging that it is these groups who are the key suppliers of illicit firearms and drivers of illegal imports, not the law-abiding firearm owner.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan told the media that such groups are “the public face of organised crime in Australia”, adding that “we don’t tolerate gun smuggling in Australia and we know outlaw motorcycle gangs have been engaged in it.”

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the government was “responding to this threat in multiple ways including refusing or cancelling the visas of foreign nationals associated with these gangs”.

The SSAA has long pointed to organised crime syndicates as key suppliers of illicit firearms to the black market and is pleased by the government’s moves to disrupt these groups. It is a welcome change from targeting the law-abiding firearm owner with more onerous restrictions that bring no public safety benefit and are simply a waste of precious policing resources.

While anti-gun groups continue to falsely point the finger at the licensed firearm owner as perpetrators of criminal activity, the figures showing serious and organised crime in Australia cost the nation $36 billion in lost economic opportunity and policing and prevention in 2013-14 paints a different picture. The study by the Australian Crime Commission found that $1.5 billion of this can be attributed to illicit commodities including trafficking illicit firearms. It was also found that around 70 per cent of Australia’s serious and organised criminal threats are based offshore or have strong offshore links, making illegal importation a real threat. The government also revealed there are 38 active outlaw motorcycle gangs in Australia, involving around 7000 people operating on various levels.

The SSAA will continue to encourage governments and authorities to focus their efforts on stopping the criminal element surrounding firearms, not further eradicate the freedoms of our 176,000 sporting shooters and recreational hunters.

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