Tuesday, April 04, 2006


Illegal guns can be bought "as easily as a pack of cigarettes" through a booming weapons black market in Queensland. Despite official denials, The Sunday Mail has been told that weapons are freely available through underworld dealers. Prices start at $300 for a pistol and range to $4000 for the firepower of an Uzi sub-machinegun, capable of firing 10 heavy-calibre rounds a second.

Police Minister Judy Spence assured Parliament this week that tough laws had brought gun crime under control. However, Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg, leading criminologist Paul Wilson, retired hero policeman John "Bluey" O'Gorman, legal gun dealers and even an ex-bank robber have confirmed the illegal trade is thriving.

The revelations about the extent of the firearms black market comes as Australia approaches the 10th anniversary on April 28 of the Port Arthur massacre in which a lone gunman killed 35 people. It also follows questions about how rival bikie members involved in a shootout at a Gold Coast resort two weekends ago were able to obtain their weapons. Some of the bikies had travelled from interstate and police have confirmed they were under surveillance in the lead-up to the incident, in which five people were either shot or stabbed.

In a statement to The Sunday Mail, the Queensland Police Service maintained there was no black market in weapons, conceding illegal guns were only sold "from time to time" by individuals. Unlawful possession of a firearm carries a maximum penalty of seven years in jail or a $22,500 fine. Yet an underworld source who contacted The Sunday Mail said "guns are everywhere" in a flourishing black market. "Buying a firearm is as easy as buying a packet of cigarettes if you have the right connections," the source said. "You can get anything you want. The new laws didn't change anything except push them further underground." The unnamed source said a Glock 19 pistol could be bought in Brisbane for $2500. The Sunday Mail was sent a photograph of the weapon. The high-powered Glock is similar to those issued to police. It has a shorter-than-average barrel length of 100mm, making it easily concealed and more attractive to criminals. The source said a lightweight Uzi sub-machinegun could be bought "from the right people" in Brisbane for $4000. The Israeli-designed 9mm automatics are favoured by special forces troops -- and crime gangs -- around the world.

Mr Springborg confirmed that police officers had privately told him of an estimated "hundreds of thousands" of weapons on the black market. "They tell me that they get traded around the bars, among organised criminal outfits and between the bikies," he said. "It's organised and there is lots of it. It's not just one or two -- there is a whole subculture that exists and anyone that says it isn't is just telling fibs." Mr Springborg called on the Government to target gun dealing "rings". "The resources aren't put in to the covert operations like they are with checking licensed shooters because they are the easy touches," he said.

Decorated former policeman John "Bluey" O'Gorman said denying the existence of a guns black market was "insulting the intelligence of average people". "It's always going to be there -- anyone who tries to trot out figures to say the black market has been reduced is really fooling themselves," he said. "The figures might be going down in the detection rate but there is no possible way that anyone could claim to have accurate figures of the number of criminals who have got handguns because they don't participate in surveys. "Some groups around the place have no difficulty in getting a handgun. "People who have a criminal lifestyle don't care about any legislation. "

Bond University criminologist Dr Paul Wilson said there was "universal agreement" that it was easy for criminals to buy guns in Queensland. "There are huge numbers of illegal handguns circulating on the black market," he said. "It's not very difficult getting a handgun. If you are a semi-professional criminal and you know which pub to go to it is that easy. People have told me that, people I trust." Dr Wilson said he believed weapons continued to be smuggled through Customs and that separate parts could be mailed to people and then reassembled in Australia. He said home-made handguns were also available on Brisbane's streets.

Reformed armed robber and journalist Bernie Matthews revealed that a weapon he was arrested with in 1996 had been bought in Queensland. "I have no problem going on the record to say there is a black market in weapons in Queensland," he said. "It was easy when I was a bank robber and my sources give me no reason to think that it is any more difficult now."


NH: Father claims self-defense in son's shooting : "A father who shot his son in the arm Tuesday night said he acted in self defense to prevent his son from assaulting him and his wife with a metal pipe. Police told John Ouellet Jr., 30, the son of John Ouellet Sr., that he was under arrest Monday while he was en route to Elliot Hospital in Manchester.Officials said Ouellet Jr. drove to his parents' home at 21 King Charles Drive on Monday and smashed in their glass storm door with a metal pipe he brought with him. Police believe his actions stemmed from an earlier argument he had with his parents about his pregnant girlfriend. Court documents reveal Ouellet Jr. threatened to kill his parents multiple times before Ouellet Sr. fired at least two shots at his son with a .38-caliber pistol, injuring the younger man's left arm. Detectives confiscated the gun and the metal pipe as evidence for their investigation.Police said they initially responded to a call from neighbor Kenneth Tomaswick, who lives directly across the street. Tomaswick told officials he heard tires squealing and three minutes later gun shots at the Ouellet home. His story coincides with the written statement police received from Ouellet Sr.'s wife, Linda Ouellet. She told police she had been chatting online with her son Monday night when she told him she thought his girlfriend's pregnancy was a mistake."

MI: Gun trumps bat: "One driver rammed his car into the other, causing minor damage. The drivers then pulled into a Burger King parking lot. One driver got out of his car with a baseball bat and approached the other driver, who then pulled a gun. Police arrived and arrested the driver with the bat. Police say the man with the gun had a legal permit to carry the weapon."

No comments: