Saturday, December 04, 2004

Aussies amongst most heavily armed

Australians rank among the world's most heavily armed citizens despite the Federal Government's efforts to tighten gun laws. There are an estimated 2.1 million private firearms in Australia, according to the Small Arms Survey 2003 by the Graduate Institute for International Studies in Geneva. Gun ownership in Australia surpasses the global ratio by more than 50 per cent with roughly one gun for every nine people, according to the study released overnight at a UN conference. In comparison, there is one privately held gun for every 16 people in the world with one gun per person in the US.

Australia's gun legislation was the most up-to-date in the Pacific region, the survey said, with average annual firearm imports dropping 66 per cent since gun laws were tightened in 1996/97 after the Port Arthur killings. However in the 2001/02 financial year Australian customs officials seized 812 illegally imported firearms with hundreds of thousands believed to have made it onto the market. And from 1999 to 2002 the number of robberies involving firearms in Sydney's most populated areas rose by 34 per cent, while handgun homicide has grown from 13 to 50 per cent since Martin Bryant killed 35 people at the Port Arthur tourist site in Tasmania in April 1996.

As the most dominant economic powers in the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand accounted for 98.99 per cent of legal imports into the region, the survey said. Of the two countries, New Zealand has more permissive gun laws but there is little difference in Australia's rate of gun crime and injury. While all states and territories permit gun ownership, Australia has in the past lacked uniform national gun laws. After the Port Arthur massacre police ministers agreed to enact new legislation for tighter regulation of gun ownership. And earlier this month the federal government launched a buyback scheme for small firearms prompted by last year's Monash University shootings in which two students were killed and five injured. The Federal Government predicts 65,000 guns will be handed in under the $118 million scheme, which will run until December 31.

Under the legislation, high calibre handguns above 9mm and short-barrelled handguns under 12cm for semi-automatics, will be banned. People found in possession of 10 or more firearms, where at least half are military style fully automatic weapons, face up to 13 years in prison. The buyback and a six-month amnesty on illegal weapons is actively in force in all states except Victoria, where it starts in less than a month, and NSW and South Australia, where it starts on October 1.


79 percent of criminals obtained guns from illegal sources: "Ninety-five percent of US police commanders and sheriffs believe most criminals obtain their firearms from illegal sources, according to a survey released by the National Association of Chiefs of Police. Coincidentally, data released by the US Department of Justice appears to confirm this claim by our nation's police executives. The DOJ study refutes the conventional wisdom that guns used in criminal acts are purchased at retail stores or gun shows. About 18 percent of state prisoners and 15 percent of federal prisoners reported that they were armed when they committed the offense for which they were imprisoned, according to the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics."

Pennsylvania: Gun suspect uses "tight jeans" defense: "Sean Eldon Duvall, 36, was arrested Tuesday on charges including aggravated assault and reckless endangerment for the June 18 incident. Southwest Regional Police Detective Sgt. James Rega said in court papers that Duvall left his car with the .38-caliber revolver hidden under papers and aimed it at him when he stopped to see if Duvall needed help. Duvall told The Associated Press that he didn't need help; he said he was just stepping out of his car to go to a friend's house to play chess. Duvall acknowledged he had his gun with him, but said he has a permit to carry it, which he tried to show Rega. By law, the gun must be concealed, but Duvall said he couldn't conceal it under his pants while sitting in his car because his jeans were too tight." [Could be true]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's true. He was acquitted of the charge as well.