Outlawed Motorcycle Gangs to Be Refused Firearms Under Aussie State’s Proposed Gun Laws

By Henry Jom
Henry Jom
Henry Jom
Henry Jom is an Australian based reporter covering local Australia news. Contact him at henry.jom@epochtimes.com.au.
February 3, 2023Updated: February 3, 2023

Outlawed motorcycle gangs may need to use other means to showcase their criminal misdemeanour and villainous prowess—at least in the Australian State of Tasmania—as the state government seeks to amend its laws on gun ownership and usage.

In a Feb. 1 statement, Tasmania’s Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management, Felix Ellis, said criminal activity and gun violence were the key focus of these reforms, which is currently open for community consultation until March 17.

“Through these amendments, we are making it clear to the Tasmanian community that people who use firearms to threaten community safety will be penalised and prosecuted under our laws,” Ellis said.

“We will be cracking down on people who threaten Tasmanians’ safety through their illegal or unsafe behaviour with firearms.”

Under the proposed changes, members of outlaw motorcycle gangs will have their firearms licences “automatically” refused and cancelled so as to “ensure that dangerous gangs do not have access to violent weapons,” Tasmania Police said in a statement.

Epoch Times Photo
Members of the Rebels motorcycle gang ride to Perth on September 12, 2013 in Australia. Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales are cracking down on bikie gangs with new laws and a national anti-gangs squad. (Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Other proposed changes include extended auditing obligations for the Auditor-General to firearms disposal to enhance auditing of guns and gun parts; extending the permanent firearms amnesty to enable firearm parts and ammunition to be surrendered to Tasmania Police without penalty; prohibiting the unlawful manufacture of firearms parts or ammunition or sound suppressors through modern technologies such as 3D printers; and adopt changes made to the National Firearms Agreement to reclassify lever-action shotguns.

“We are also making sure that people who use imitation firearms to commit crimes will be prosecuted. Gel blasters are not toys. They are intentionally manufactured to look, weigh and feel like firearms and have an operating system similar to an air rifle. People have used these to threaten and intimidate the public, and that is unacceptable,” Ellis said.

This comes as Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk is pushing for a national firearms register following the fatal shooting of two police officers in her state in December 2022.

Gun Control Advocates Concerned Proposed Changes Could Make Firearms More Accessible

According to Roland Browne, Vice-president of Gun Control Australia, Tasmania is the only Australian state that has not introduced a classification for “lever action shotguns” as a category B firearm under its categories of a firearms licence.

“[C]ategory B are for single-shot guns, and this was a product of the Port Arthur Massacre down here [in Tasmania] in 1996 that saw limitations on rapid firearm and semi-automatic self-loading guns being in the general population’s hands—and now with the lever action shotgun change we are seeing them introduced as category B guns,” Browne told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

“It means that around Australia, recreational shooters can have these guns available. They have five cartridge magazines in contrast to every category B gun. It’s a boom for the gun market and gun salespeople, and it’s going to put the community at risk.”

According to Tasmania’s Firearms Act 1996, a person can only obtain a gun licence if they have a “genuine reason” under five different categories depending on the licence required, with each successive category having more requirements.

Personal protection or protection of family or property is “not a genuine reason.”

“What we want to see around Australia, but certainly in Tasmania, is that they’re classified as category C with the other rapid-fire guns, and so they’re not easily available to the community,” Browne said.

Australians Hand Over Tens of Thousands of Weapons

A total of 17,543 firearms weapons and 606 weapons components, including suppressors and magazines, were surrendered between 1 July 2021 and 30 June 2022, according to the Permanent National Firearms Amnesty Annual Report issued on Jan. 20 by Attorney-General’s Department.

The National Firearms Amnesty program was approved in 2019 by the then Coalition government. However, the program was delayed until July 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the reasons for the surrendering of weapons were because the firearm was not wanted or needed anymore, the firearms were obtained as a family heritage, or the firearm was given by a family member or friend.

Epoch Times Photo
Australian Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus at the National Press Club in Canberra, Australia, on Oct. 12, 2022. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

“The Albanese government thanks those Australians who have participated in the permanent amnesty and urges gun owners to continue to hand in their unregistered or unwanted firearms,” Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said in a Jan. 21 statement.

“The report released today found Australians who surrendered firearms in that time period were primarily motivated to do so out of a sense of responsibility or because they did not require them.”

Meanwhile, a Deakin university study that interviewed 75 prisoners across 16 correctional facilities found that obtaining an illegal gun in Australia was relatively easy.

“Our research found that the black market for illegal firearms is closed to the general population, but if you are well connected and trusted within criminal circles, it is surprisingly easy to get your hands on a gun,” Criminology Prof. David Bright said in September 2022.

Western Australia’s Premier Mark McGowan said he would be backing Palaszczuk’s push for a national firearms registry at the Feb. 3 national cabinet meeting.

Cindy Zhan and Victoria Kelly-Clark contributed to this report.

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