A recent raid by the Australian Federal Police confirms where firearms used by criminals come from: illegal importations, not the local legal market.

Where illegal guns come from

WHEN GUNS USED IN CRIME turn up, they are rarely found to have originated from the legal market. They are usually found to have been smuggled in through our borders.

The old favourite: the waterfront

The most common way to smuggle guns in is through the waterfront.

There is, on average, around 50,000 tonnes of cargo that comes into Australia each year – that’s per customs officer!

If you have ever ventured around a dock, you will be amazed by the long corridors of containers stacked three or four high that surround you.

They are so high, you can only see the sky immediately above you.

Even when Customs searches a container, it can take a team of eight officers a full day to search just half a container.

It’s little wonder then then that it’s easy to smuggle guns in through our borders, and why finding them can be a ‘needle in the haystack’ exercise.

Finding the guns

The good news is that Customs don’t often do random searches: they use intelligence, container x-ray machines and risk assessment techniques, to make sure they focus on the containers that need attention.

However even with these, it’s still hard work for them to do..

AFP hits the jackpot

THE AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE have just confirmed this, with this recent announcement on their discovery of firearms, firearm parts and other items in a recent raid in Sydney.

While we are obviously not privy to their information, the discovery of an ‘illegal firearms parts import scheme’ and use of a search warrant, clearly suggest they acted on intelligence.

In their announcement, the AFP confirmed they were investigating a scheme to build operation firearms from parts, and confirmed this with the discovery of parts, unregistered pistols, and possession of a blueprint to manufacture firearms.

The raid also resulted in the seizure of eight complete firearms, 14 Glock pistol receivers, a Glock barrel, a collection of firearm parts, and tools used in the manufacture of firearms.

The individual allegedly responsible for this has been charged with 18 offences, some of these offences carry a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment.

What this tells us

This bust is obviously good news – and confirms where criminals get their illicit firearms.

Its only made possible because of the work that is done to target the riskier shipments.

It also means that if Customs was able to improve its techniques even more, the data will provide even more evidence that show that the legal gun market is not problem.

That is not to say stolen guns are not used in crime, but what it does do is demonstrate why the assumptions that our policy experts and politicians often make, don’t work.

If they had any doubt about this, then spending an afternoon walking around the waterfront might be what they need to change their minds.

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