The NSW registry says it conducted raids on gun owners “with links to organised crime groups”. 

HERE’S A HINT: No criminals were found. No drugs, no Uzis and no-one who skipped bail. All they found were two gun owners who slipped up on minor matters.

The raids on ‘organised crime groups’

NSW POLICE told the media they seized 80 firearms, 30,000 rounds of ammo and say they revoked nine firearm licenses “in a blitz on gun owners with alleged links to organised crime groups, which they say were outlaw motorcycle gangs and organised criminal networks.

The raids took place in Coniston, Brayton, Tongarra, Horsley, Woonona and Bombala, as well Leumeah, Matraville, Silverdale and The Oaks in the Greater Sydney area.

Great – except something didn’t add up …

The claim was hogwash ….

The police claimed they targeted “gun owners with alleged links to organised crime groups”.

Let’s be generous: if we were to assume that some members of ‘organised crime groups’ did manage to obtain licences, then NSW Police could be forgiven for making such a grandiose claim.

However the outcomes of the raids suggest the opposite.

The police charged two firearm owners with inadequate storage and other minor offences. One guy allegedly had a silencer (‘suppressor’ – that he could have had approval for) and the other had a slingshot. 

Importantly, no-one was charged for being part of a criminal enterprise, or for any of the other things that ‘organised crime groups’ have.  There were no drugs, outstanding warrants or anything else

In other words, it looks like the registry simply decided to conduct raids on gun owners which failed to turn up anything worthwhile – and made up the claim of links to ‘ organised crime groups’ to make what they did find found look more sinister than it really was.

In fact in the last sentence of the NSW Police’s own media release gives the game away. It says:

“Whilst it is not alleged any person subject to this operation is themselves involved in criminal activity, it’s another reminder of the price of involvement in OCN or OMCGs.”

In other words, they made this story up
– to create a ‘reminder’…

Superintendent Spin

Commander of the NSW Firearms Registry, Detective Superintendent, Cameron Lindsay (pictured below), told the media “The NSW Firearms Registry has stringent integrity testing of all firearm applicants for licences and permits and continually assesses that licence holder’s suitability to retain their licence.”

He also said: “This operation is an important reminder to all firearm licence holders that the NSW Firearms Registry has an exhaustive list of grounds to revoke a licence, and we will do so if there’s even the slightest risk to the community.”

Again, we would suggest the raids and their outcomes reflected poorly on the registry’s own competency and its use of the media to push claims that simply weren’t true.

The registry’s history of going after the wrong people

Remember Peter Martin?

He’s the pensioner from northern NSW who had a cordial conversation with an employee of a nearby grain store about his love for shooting and showed him his licence.

This conversation was overheard by another employee who started a chain of events that resulted in Peter’s licence being revoked.

We helped Peter get his licence back – but it was a clear demonstration of how the registry with ‘stringent integrity testing’ failed the community, shooters, and the pensioner who did nothing wrong.

PLUS we have come across a number of ex-servicemen who used their DVA cards to get discounts on their firearms licences – only to then be asked to prove they were mentally fit to hold their licences.

This was a case of entrapment that yet again failed to demonstrate how the NSW licensing system relies on ‘stringent integrity testing’.

Importantly these people were never a ‘risk to the community’, but were targeted by the registry without reason.

Why crims can’t get licences

Like other states and territories, NSW’s Firearms Act 1996 requires licensees to not only be ‘fit and proper’ persons but have genuine reasons to hold firearms that they need evidence of.

In other words, if the police did their job properly, people known to be associated with criminal activities, particularly outlaw motorcycle gangs or organised criminal networks as claimed by the police, wouldn’t have firearm licences in the first place. 

That’s why it’s a nonsense to think that criminals can get firearm licences – or that they would be even remotely interested in getting them.

What does the law say?

Here’s what section 11 of the NSW Firearms Act 1996 says:

(1) The Commissioner may issue a licence in respect of an application, or refuse any such application.

(3) A licence must not be issued unless—
(a) the Commissioner is satisfied that the applicant is a fit and proper person and can be trusted to have possession of firearms without danger to public safety or to the peace, and

In other words, firearm licences “must not” be issued to anyone the police say is not ‘fit and proper’ to hold a licence. If a licence is issued to a bad egg, then that’s on them.

When it comes to genuine need, section 12 of the Act says.

(1) The Commissioner must not issue a licence that authorises the possession and use of a firearm unless the Commissioner is satisfied that the applicant has a genuine reason for possessing or using the firearm.

(4) Subject to this Act, an applicant for a licence has a genuine reason for possessing or using a firearm if the applicant—

(b) is able to produce evidence to the Commissioner that he or she satisfies the requirements specified in respect of any such reason.

Again, “must not” is clear. The applicant needs to satisfy the registry of their genuine reason, and this needs to be backed by documentary evidence.

Section 12 also lists the available genuine reasons – and specifies what is required for each.

 Those reasons are:

  • sport/target shooting
  • recreational hunting/vermin control
  • primary production
  • vertebrate pest animal control
  • business or employment
  • animal welfare
  • firearms collection

What this means is that if people associated with outlaw motorcycle gangs or organised criminal networks get firearms licences, then it can only be courtesy of NSW Police.

The registry hasn’t been able to recover from it’s problems

The mistakes being made by the registry come from a knee-jerk reaction over the tragic shooting by John Edwards of his two children in 2018.

The inquiry that followed pointed to a ‘litany of errors’ made by police, which caused them to start to overreact to people for whom there were no red flags.

We know running a registry isn’t easy and mistakes will happen simply because it has to licence well over 250,000 individuals.

However, it’s hard to see NSW Police as making a genuine effort to recognise and fix the mistakes of the past, so that they do not happen again.

Worse still are the statements by Detective Superintendent Lindsay which suggest NSW Police simply won’t engage in that mindset.

Politics Reloaded will keep digging

We’ve put in a FOI request to find out if NSW Police has clear policies governing how it determines who is fit and proper to hold a licence.

We are also seeking documents on why it might then conduct raids on those it licences.

Plus we’ve written to the NSW Police Minister, Yasmin Catley, asking for her view on the integrity of the decisions made by the registry.

We’re asking her if she agrees for the need to provide some civilian or parliamentary oversight of its governing and policies so that it can maintain a trusting environment with licensees.

We’ll let you know if and when we get responses.

COMING UP: Later this week, we’ll bring you the story of a Labor MP who went running when members of one of his local gun clubs asked him to for help.   That’s why we’re about to give him a hard time …

Why not put this on your club’s noticeboard? 

Got a good story tip for us? 
Click here to let us know


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