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Controls needed on owners of military weapons

21 December 2006

Tighter controls needed on owners of military style weapons

Green Party MP Keith Locke has called for greater controls on the owners of military style weapons, in the wake of the Police seizure of hundreds of military style weapons during raids on 55 gun collectors and dealers.

"When even the Police express surprise at the extent of the seizures, this indicates serious flaws exist within the gun control system they administer," Mr Locke says.

"The raids are very welcome, and hopefully indicate a fresh determination by Police to tackle this problem. The Police vetting system has become far too loose, and it has become too easy to register and trade as a 'collector.'

"The profits possible from on-selling these weapons are clearly proving too much for some of these registered gun collectors to resist.

"While one can sympathise with genuine collectors, it is not acceptable that the 'collectors' market is being used as a cover for a black market trade in guns, some of which ultimately end up in the hands of gangs and criminals.

"The initial looseness in the control system is that gun owners must be registered, but not their guns. In future, guns need to be registered.

"Beyond that point, special controls should ensure that military style weapons are limited to genuine collectors and traders, so that the authorities should always be able to trace where each one of such weapons is, and who has it in their possession.

"This system has clearly broken down. Some gun collectors are passing these guns on, into the hands of criminals. Reportedly, one in five of the hundreds of weapons seized during the Police raid were illegally obtained and held.

"If we want to keep serious weapons out of the hands of gangs and criminals we have to resist pressure from the gun lobby, and must make it mandatory to register guns, and not just gun owners. When it comes to military style weapons, they should be restricted to display purposes by collectors - and should thus be required to be permanently disabled, so that they cannot be sold intact and used for criminal purposes.

"The Police have said that while the guns used in domestic violence are mostly owned by gun owners, the guns used for other criminal purposes are generally stolen. This situation - where genuine collectors are serving as an unwitting armoury that is regularly being raided by criminals - suggests that the Government must give serious consideration to requiring the permanent disabling of military style weapons."

ENDS

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