Too Many Guns shows the extent of gun ownership across NSW

Private firearms ownership data was obtained through a Freedom of Information application to the NSW Police. It shows the overall number of guns and gun owners in NSW overall and by postcode as of March 2017.

There are 810,023 registered firearms in NSW. There are over 100 postcodes that have more than 2,000 guns and there are 6 postcodes that contain more than 10,000 guns. 

The data also demonstrates the size of the largest 100 private arsenals owned by any one person in NSW as of March 2017. This specifically excluded guns owned by firearm dealers and collectors. Remarkably this shows over 100 people with between 73 and 312 firearms each.

The Greens think this is too many guns.

On 28 April 1996 a gunman killed 35 people and injured a further 23 in Australia’s worst ever mass shooting at Port Arthur. 20 years on from this tragedy and the historic National Firearms Agreement (NFA) that followed, it is time to review the state of Australia’s firearms laws.

The 1996 agreement delivered a prohibition on automatic and semi-automatic weapons. For the first time ever the NFA also made it a universal requirement across Australia for people to establish they had a ‘genuine reason” for having a firearms licence and a “good reason” to acquire a firearm.

Loophole allows Private Arsenals

However there is a serious loophole in Australia’s firearms laws that is being exploited by some gun owners so that they can accumulate dozens and dozens, and in some cases hundreds, of guns. Gun owners can endlessly recycle the same “good reason” to get their first gun and then their second gun, their tenth gun and their 300th gun.

This lack of rigour in the law has allowed 100 citizens in NSW to have more than 70 guns each. There are dozens of people in ordinary suburbs and towns who quite literally own private arsenals. The community expects that our firearm laws will put reasonable limits on the number of guns people can own to prevent the build-up of private arsenals in the community. 

The NSW permit to acquire a firearm requires a person seeking to acquire a gun to state that:

“I confirm that the good reason for acquiring this firearm is directly related to the reason for the issue of my firearms licence.”

The main reasons people give for obtaining a firearms licence are that they are a member of a shooting club or the owner of a rural property. Some also rely on their membership of a hunting club.

Reform need to stop the accumulation of private arsenals

The Greens accept that there are people in the community who have a genuine reason to own a gun. Farmers on rural properties often require firearms for euthanizing injured stock or controlling wild invasive animals. Target shooting at a registered gun club is also a long-recognised and legitimate sport. Members of a shooting club and farmers may reasonably be able to establish a need for a number of guns to address their different needs. However it is impossible to see how any one citizen can establish a “genuine” or “good reason” to have dozens, or even hundreds of guns.

In the interests of community safety it is time this loophole in the firearms laws was closed so that once any gun owner owns at least 5 guns that they have to establish a separate and extraordinary reason for owning each additional gun.

Properly administered this reform would significantly reduce the number of firearms in our community and end the disturbing trend towards people collecting their own private arsenals.