In a case of déjà vu, Justice Minister Michael Keenan has again appeared to overstate the reality of gun seizures from outlaw motorcycle gangs, creating an apparent false sense of security. In a press release issued on September 28, Minister Keenan claimed that 5700 illegal firearms and parts have been seized by the National Anti-Gangs Squad since the dedicated crime-fighting group was formed in 2013. While admirable in theory, the actual data tells a different story.
Earlier this year, Minister Keenan announced 5600 illegal firearms had been seized by the squad. Following persistence from the SSAA-LA team, it was later revealed that this impressive figure overwhelmingly included firearm parts and just six were actual firearms. Furthermore, around 4500 out of 5249 firearm parts were seized in the United States.
This time, it has been revealed that just 308 out of the 5700 items were actually recorded as firearms, although it is not known if the firearms were operational. The SSAA applauds the squad for arresting more than 1068 offenders and establishing the case for 3365 charges to be laid. However, overstating firearm seizures and blurring the lines between actual firearms and firearm parts creates a false sense of security and does little to address illegal gun crime.
In some positive news, information-sharing about organised crime groups between other nations appears to have helped police direct their resources into disrupting some of the groups’ illegal activities. Minister Keenan praised the squad for “addressing this overseas risk, by sharing with foreign law enforcement agencies the successful disruption activities that have been used in Australia”.
As organised crime groups are known to illegally import firearms and parts, disrupting groups both here and overseas is vital in stemming the flow of illicit firearms. But in the age of fake news, it is vital that the facts are made clear. The SSAA will always try to make sure our politicians and authorities deal in facts and evidence, not emotion or sensational claims.