Victoria Police have issued a warning to gun owners in that state to make sure their guns are properly stored in line with their legal obligations. A blitz on the inspection of gun-safes has been announced and there are stiff penalties for non-compliance with the law.
According to the press release from Victoria Police, registered owners of firearms in the Geelong, Surf Coast and Colac-Otways police service areas are being warned to familiarise themselves with their licence conditions or risk being prosecuted.
In February this year the Geelong Divisional Firearms office launched ‘Operation 388’ which focuses on firearms regulatory compliance.
The operation came about after an analysis of data by the Geelong Divisional Intelligence Unit, which highlighted the increasing trend of rural burglaries and theft of firearms in the area.
“Effective storage of firearms is imperative to reduce thefts and Operation 388 will focus on inspecting a number of addresses of the nearly 10,000 licence holders residing in the division”, said Leading Senior Constable Anthony Sheedy from the Geelong Divisional Firearms Office.
“Operation 388 is all about conducting firearms licence compliance audits to increase awareness, compliance and enhance public safety”.
The operation has already yielded some astonishing results with 10 licence holders found to be in breach of their obligations and a total of 260 firearms seized.
Any variation from the strict requirements regarding the security and safe storage of firearms and ammunition is an offence and will lead to prosecution, said Leading Senior Constable Sheedy.
“Rural property owners are at greater risk of unwittingly being a source for black market firearms due to a number of factors including inadequate storage practices.
“Our division will be stepping up random inspections over the coming months so my advice to firearms licence holders and dealers in the Geelong and Surf Coast police service areas is – expect a visit.”
Significant penalties apply to licensed firearms holders and dealers which may include the cancellation of their firearms licence together with fines.
Local community assistance is critical and anyone with information about stolen firearms or firearms not being stored correctly is asked to contact their local police station or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
Timely reporting of firearm thefts is also important so the information can be investigated by police at the earliest opportunity. It is legislated that the owner of a firearm must report it’s theft within a 24 hour period.
The key message we’re trying to communicate with licence holders is that it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure firearms don’t end up in the wrong hands, said Leading Senior Constable Sheedy.
“Lock it, secure it, or lose it “.