Crims have increasing access to gun owners’ details

The fact that Victorian criminals have a book full of gun owners’ personal details should come as no surprise, and while it highlights the dangers shooters face, it also reveals a deep flaw in the gun control debate.

Where was the outrage? Why did so few mainstream media outlets jump on it? Why are there no demands for an inquiry into where the information came from?

The focus of the gun-control lobby and media these past weeks has been on more laws, with no proper analysis of the situation at all; indeed, you’d think Australia had America’s gun laws and gun problems, based on half the media reports recently.

But the fact remains that the only major gun problem we have in Australia is a criminal one: gang rivalries and a relatively small number of thefts. A significant number of these thefts are intended to feed guns into the gangland market.

That’s why criminals had a book full of information on gun owners.

Police say most of the people on the list were firearm dealers, but not all, and they linked the book to a number of gun thefts in the Geelong area.

So far, we have no information on where the details came from, but the shooting community is becoming increasingly suspicious of the security of Australian firearm registries.

Many anecdotal incidents point to info coming from a database, including one widely reported claim by a shooter that he was robbed only months after putting his new address into the registry and being audited.

Police in NSW appeared to simply brush aside accusations that the state’s registry had been breached. The accusations came after a spike in thefts, many of them clearly targeted.

Not all targeted thefts involve handguns or other firearms wanted by criminal gangs. Sporting Shooter has reliable – but unconfirmed – reports that high-end firearms like Purdeys, worth tens of thousands of dollars, have also been targeted, and our supposition is that these would end up being shipped overseas for re-sale at great profit.

The fact that debate and publicity has centred on gun laws and hunting during this time is worrying, because neither subject involves crimes actually being committed, let alone any real dangers to society.

The hysteria being generated over hunting in NSW national parks is doing more than creating unfounded fears among the public, it is permitting a real problem to slip under the radar.

Meanwhile, in the US, a New York newspaper published the names and addresses of thousands of people licensed to carry concealed firearms, intending to stir things up during the gun control debate following the Newtown massacre.

The information was always on the public record, but publishing it had an immediate effect, panicking the public to a degree but, worse, directly endangering those gun owners, many of whom became targets.

Confirmed examples include a former stalking victim who is now being tormented again, a retired police officer who fears being targeted by criminals he caught, and domestic abuse victims whose current whereabouts is now known to their abusers.

Remember that to get a concealed carry permit in the US, you must pass background checks and show you are a trusted and responsible citizen. These people are not criminals.

The move to publish the details was an anti-gun statement by an anti-gun newspaper, and it has been described as hate speech and propaganda.

It raises the question of what would happen if one of the renowned internet-based hacking groups got into any of the Australian gun registries – or indeed the national one that is already in the early stages of being set up – and put our names, addresses and firearm details into the public domain.




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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.