More than two dozen people in WA own more than 100 licensed firearms, each of which is said to have been individually approved by the police, according to figures filed in state parliament.
Most important points:
- Figures filed in state parliament show that some Western Australians are licensed to have more than 100 firearms.
- Shadow Police Minister Peter Collier says the numbers likely relate to collectors and enthusiasts.
- Police Secretary Paul Papalia says these numbers are part of the reasons WA’s gun laws are being completely rewritten.
The figures, which provide insight into gun ownership in WA, were released Wednesday in response to questions from shadow police minister Peter Collier.
The numbers show that there are 178 people in WA with more than 25 firearms, including 34 who have more than 50 and 26 who have more than 100.
“I was, I have to say, a bit confronted with the numbers,” Mr Collier told ABC Radio Perth presenter Nadia Mitsopoulos on Friday.
“But having said that, we need to have perspective on this matter.
“And that’s that almost all of these multiple gun owners, I assume, would be collectors or gun enthusiasts, or there would be a valid reason.”
Shooting club president says numbers have no context
The numbers do not specify the classifications of the firearms, meaning they can include rifles, shotguns, pistols, or paintball guns.
The figures also exclude arms dealers.
Paul Fitzgerald, WA president of the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia, said the numbers were high, but without context.
“We can talk about a person who runs a paintball business, say in Western Australia,” he said.
“And there are some, and they may have 300 or 200 paintball marks on their individual license to run that business.”
He said people who shoot competitively can also have 10 or 20 different firearms to compete in different divisions.
Firearms need individual approval
Under WA law, any of the 178 people in WA who have more than 25 firearms should obtain a police license for each weapon.
To get approval for any firearm, an applicant must provide the police with varying degrees of “genuine” explanations to demand them, depending on the capacity of the firearm.
Applicants seeking to license a low-power weapon must have a “real reason” while those seeking approval for a high-power weapon must show both a genuine “reason” and a “necessity”.
The release of the figures follows an announcement in March that the WA government was undertaking what it called “the largest firearms law review in Western Australian history”.
According to the government, the number of licensed guns in WA has increased by 60 percent over the past 13 years to 349,000 guns by 2022.
However, the number of gun owners has decreased over the same period, suggesting that a smaller number of people own a greater number of firearms.
WA police referred questions to Police Minister Paul Papalia, who was asked about the numbers at a press conference on Friday.
“I am amazed that under the current law there are opportunities for people to collect very large numbers of firearms,” he said.
“That’s part of the reason we’re rewriting the whole law.”
The state government previously stated that the reasons behind the proposed new gun laws were related to community safety.
No further details have been released about the nature of the changes. Mr Papalia said consultations on the new laws are underway but are not expected to be presented to parliament until the end of 2023.