Citation(s) from the literature library

Dawson, Chris. 2014 ‘How Firearms Enter the Illicit Market.’ Australian Crime Commission, Submission No. 75 to Senate Committee: Inquiry into the Ability of Australian Law Enforcement Authorities to Eliminate Gun-Related Violence in the Community; Submission No. 75 (Sections 14, 16, 17, 18, 21, 22, 23), pp. 3-5. Canberra: Australian Crime Commission. 22 August

Relevant contents

How Firearms Enter the Illicit Market

14. The illicit firearm market1 was assessed in 2012 to be predominantly comprised of firearms that had been diverted from the licit market through various means, some of which were specific to the type of firearm in question.

The main methods of firearm diversion into the illicit market by type are:

Long-arms (shotguns and rifles)
- the grey market1
- theft from licensed individuals and firearms dealers
- failure to reconcile the interstate movement of the firearm, and
- importation of undeclared firearms and firearm parts.

- historical deactivation and technical loopholes
- theft from licensed individuals and firearm dealers
- failure to reconcile the interstate movement of the firearm, and
- importation of undeclared firearms and firearm parts…


16. Theft remains a primary method for diverting firearms to the illicit market. An average of 1,545 (1) firearms per annum was reported stolen to Australian state and territory police during the period 2004-05 to 2008-09 (2). The majority of reported stolen firearms are rifles, followed by shotguns. Handguns generally make up less than ten percent of stolen firearms. This broadly reflects firearm ownership patterns in Australia.

Illegal Importation

17. Based on information held by the ACC, there is some evidence that firearms and firearm parts are illegally imported into Australia, although ACC data indicate that these comprise a small proportion of all firearms diverted into the black market.

18. In 2012 ACC Firearm Trace Program data identified illegal importation as the method of diversion for 4 per cent of handguns (with a known diversion method) and 0.1 per cent of long-arms (with a known diversion method) (3) noting that illegal importation only made up one percent of total diversions…

Illicit Domestic Manufacture

21. The licit manufacture of firearms in Australia is now almost non-existent, with only a small industry involved in the manufacture of specialised target firearms.

22. The ACC has assessed that the prevalence of illicit firearm manufacture in Australia is low, with minimal requirement for illicit manufacture as demand can be met from the existing illicit market.

23. There is some demand for illicitly manufactured restricted firearms such as sub machine guns (SMGs), single-shot pen guns and key ring guns. Drivers for domestic illicit manufacture of SMGs include their lethality, compact size and the fact that fully functioning SMGs are not, and have never been, available to licensed firearm owners in Australia. The simplicity of design of single shot pen guns and key rings and the potential for concealment will continue to act as drivers for continued illicit manufacture of these firearms.

(1) This figure is likely to underestimate the actual number of firearms stolen as a consequence of non-reporting. Not all stolen firearms are reported to police, particularly if the victim is unlicensed, in possession of an unregistered firearm or has not adhered to prescribed storage requirements.

(2) Australian Institute of Criminology, 'Firearm Theft In Australia 2008-09', AIC Monitoring Report No. 16, Australian Government.

(3) Due to a lack of critical data such as a valid serial number on the firearm, the method of diversion was not able to be assessed for 69 per cent of handguns traced by the ACC. lt should also be noted that the majority of firearms submitted for trace are long-arms…

Testimony from Chris Dawson, Chief Executive Officer, ACC

[ACC = Australian Crime Commission, later merged into the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC)]

ID: Q11589

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