Sunday, July 16, 2017

Australia Gun Culture: Ownership Increases in NSW and Australia: part 6

Image from the The Northern Daily Leader

In the above chart, the numbers are unclear. Is it 14,542 registered guns, or licensed gun owners in Tamworth, NSW, Australia? Is the increase since 2010 in registered guns, or licensed gun owners?

The number of legal guns and likely, licensed gun owners, is increasing in Australia. It is difficult to know exactly how much it is increasing because statistics are not well kept. National statistics are uncertain because of differences in state systems.  From an article in from 2011:
Today, that national system is in a mess. No federal agencies or crime researchers were able to tell the ABC exactly how many registered guns or licensed shooters are in the country, and by how much gun numbers and gun owners were increasing.

The best estimate was 2.7 million registered guns, based on patchy figures supplied to Background Briefing.

The national police information service CrimTrac does have a national database, and it lists 4.3 million registered firearms. A CrimTrac spokesperson says it has no control over the data and was unable to say anything else about those 4.3 million guns.

For the past 15 years, gun homicide rates have been falling, but researchers fear because gun data is poorly kept and rarely shared, new crime trends involving guns are being missed.
It is clear that legal gun numbers have surpassed those that were in existence when the extraordinarily strict gun laws were imposed on Australia in 1996.

The registration and storage measures were rushed through the legislature in record time. The successful strategy was to pass them before any serious objection could be raised, during the emotional reaction to the Port Arthur massacre.

It is hard to reconcile the 2.7 million registered guns  said to be "The best estimate" with the CrimTrac police figure of 4.3 million registered firearms.

The number given for Tamworth, NSW is 14,542. The population of Tamworth in 2016 was estimated at 61,800. It makes a considerable difference if there is one registered gun for every 4 people, or one licensed gun owner.

In either case, legal gun ownership is on the rise. It may be due to unintended consequences created by the extremely strict penalties put in place in 1996.

For example, it takes weeks to be approved to purchase a new gun. The system requires an application to purchase. The approved application to purchase is good for 90 days, and generally costs a non-refundable $30.

If a licensed owner is considering purchasing a gun, and does not wish to make multiple trips to a gun store, they are likely to spend the $30 for a permit to purchase in advance, and carry it with them. Gasoline is $5 a gallon in Australia.

With the permit, if they see a rifle or shotgun that they like, they can purchase it on the spot. As the end of the 90 days approaches, the motivation to use the permit and not "lose" the $30 investment rises, increasing the likelihood of a purchase.

Similarly, a wife, son, brother, or sister, is not allowed to have access to a gun safe that their husband, brother or sister keeps their guns in. The motivation is strong (required by law) to have multiple gun safes to keep multiple guns for separate users.

I asked about the availability of used gun safes. I was told they were immediately snapped up when they became available. The Tamworth gun shop had multiple new gun safes available for sale.

How many legal gun owners are there in Australia? It appears that no one knows for certain. It could be anywhere from 1 million to 3 million. The total population of Australia is about 24 million.

The Shooters, Fishers, and Farmers party represents the interests of firearms owners in Australia. It is the only party dedicated fighting for shooters rights in Western democracies. It currently has three members of the NSW Parliament, two members of the Victoria Parliament, and one member of the Western Australia Parliament. National vote levels for the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party are about 3% of the totals. In Australia, all voters are required to vote by law.

©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.

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