$400,000 already wasted on registry that will fail

Firearm experts have been shut out of development of the national firearms registry while taxpayer money continues to pour into a discredited system.

The firearms community as well as operational police with knowledge of firearms and data handling have tried to point out the futility of the trying to establish a national registry but the costs continue to rise.

Australia’s current Commonwealth Government has already spent almost half a million dollars on a single consultancy for its proposed national firearms registry, according to details sourced by Women in Hunting and Shooting.

In 2012, the Nous Group was given $400,000 for management advisory services as consultants to a national firearms register project.

Nous is the same organisation that in 2007 was given almost $1 million by the Victorian government to provide a business case for a national firearms management system.

Their work was apparently stopped, but it is looking more likely that it has been revived for this latest attempt to create a national registry.

Nous’s original data was misleadingly used to paint a grim picture of illegal firearm trafficking, but the real problem was in the way registry information was mishandled.

“Their report, presented to the Ministerial Council for Police and Emergency Management late in 2007, stated that around 14,000 firearms ‘drop off’ state and territory registries each year,” WiSH chair Dr Samara McPhedran said

“Under questioning from the firearms community, the Nous Group acknowledged that almost all of the 14,000 firearms were subsequently accounted for when records were properly checked.

“Those guns were never lost, and never in the wrong hands. They were ‘missing’ due to simple administrative and data entry errors, not wrongdoing on the part of licensed firearms owners, and not diversion into the criminal market.”

Internally, some police believe it will be impossible to consolidate data existing into an accurate, error-free database, partly because there are already so many errors in the many existing firearm databases.

The false claim that 14,000 firearms go missing each year has now been used by the Commonwealth Government to justify their push for a national registry, Dr McPhedran said, and there is now no one in a position to challenge the assertion.

“Last time around, questions from the firearms community exposed problems with the case for a taxpayer funded national firearms registry. This time around, we have been completely excluded from the process.

“How much more money is going to be wasted on a bureaucratic, feelgood scheme that achieves nothing?”

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Mick Matheson

Mick grew up with guns and journalism, and has included both in his career. A life-long hunter, he has long-distant military experience and holds licence categories A, B and H. In the glory days of print media, he edited six national magazines in total, and has written about, photographed and filmed firearms and hunting for more than 15 years.