Citation(s) from the literature library

Australia. 2016 ‘Illicit Firearms at the Australian Border.’ Illicit Firearms in Australia, pp. 15-16. Canberra: Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission. 21 October

Relevant contents

Illicit Firearms at the Australian Border

The majority of undeclared firearm imports detected at the Australian border are attributed to opportunistic individual importers not previously linked to organised criminal activity. The desire for handguns of advanced design may drive an increase in illegal imports of such handguns in the future.

Undeclared Firearm-related Imports

An imported firearm is considered an undeclared detection (19) if it is identified by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) as prohibited or restricted and it has not been declared in accordance with legal import requirements. Not all undeclared detections are seized; seizure only occurs when firearms detained by DIBP fail to meet import requirements. Many firearms are released after the importer has been given the opportunity to meet import requirements, such as obtaining the relevant permits.

In 2015–16, DIBP detected 1,751 conventional firearms, firearm parts and accessories and magazines. While the overall totals have remained consistent over the last three years, there was an increase in detections of firearm parts and accessories and a reduction in detections of magazines during the 2015–16 period.

Figure 3: Undeclared Detections of Conventional Firearms, Firearm Parts, Accessories and Magazines by Type, 2011–12 to 2015–16

Law enforcement has no way of accurately assessing the extent to which firearms and firearm parts are illegally imported into Australia.(20)

Despite attempts by the ACIC to collect information regarding illegal firearm-related imports over the assessment period, no significant illicit firearms imports were identified at the border. However, in August 2016, a multi-agency operation resulted in two men being charged with firearm offences and a cache of firearms and firearm parts being seized in Australia and the US.(21) The majority of firearms and firearm parts seized (six fully automatic assault rifles and 96 semiautomatic handgun frames) were intercepted in the US while being prepared for export to Australia.

Figure 4: Firearms and Parts Seized in August 2016 During Joint International Operation Targeting Illegal Firearms


19) For the purpose of this report an undeclared firearm includes undeclared parts, accessories or components where the importation of the same is controlled by legislation or regulations.

20) Evidence provided to the Senate inquiry in the ability of law enforcement to combat gun-related violence in the community by NSW Government Justice Cluster (including NSW Police Force) indicated that illegal firearms were a driving factor in gun crime in NSW. Victoria Police evidence to the same Senate committee indicated they did not believe illegally imported firearms were a significant factor.

21) AFP 2016, 'Media Release: Joint international operation sees two men charged with firearm offences', available at:

ID: Q13183

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