Written by John Sutton
May 31, 2013
It has become increasingly clear that gun crime is a concern in NSW. Indeed, we have previously written about gun crime in Sydney, and posited that the only way to reduce it is by dedicating more of our state resources to investigating and prosecuting the illegal possession and use of firearms.
Worryingly, last month in NSW, we experienced what was dubbed one of the “worst crime weeks” by the NSW Police, after 10 people were shot in the space of 5 days.
As a result of this trend, a national crackdown on illegal firearms was launched in every Australian state from May 24. The two week blitz, dubbed ‘Operation Unification’ is an Australia-wide effort and will rely on anonymous tips to an 1800-number.
In NSW, the maximum penalty for possessing an unregistered or unlicensed firearm is 5 years imprisonment. For a charge involving the possession or use of a prohibited firearm, the maximum penalty rises to 10 years imprisonment. It is an indicator of how serious these offences are viewed by the authorities that they attract such high penalties.
In addition, community fears are rising about the accessibility of firearms as they are generally small and can be easily concealed. Even more frightening is the recently realised prospect of creating a firearm by means of a 3D printer. Instructions can be easily downloaded online to create a plastic gun capable of being fired with lethal effects.
As the current legislation stands, imitation or replica guns, aside from children’s toys, are to be treated in the same manner as the weapon they represent. However, the question is whether this provision is sufficient to encompass the potential dangers of home-produced weapons in mass quantities. This is clearly situation where the law must be vigilant in keeping up with the leaps and bounds of technology.