Local police and Crime Stoppers Queensland have banded together to launch Phase 2 of the Illicit Firearms Campaign which encourages residents to “make the call” and play an active role in combatting firearm crime.
Today, the organisations launched the campaign in Bundaberg calling on Wide Bay Burnett residents to say something before it’s too late, declaring the fight against gun crime is everyone’s responsibility.
The campaign is part of a highly successful state-wide blitz that saw close to 2500 firearms surrendered including 62 firearms of interest as of April 28 2022.
The illicit movement, trafficking and use of these firearms for criminal activity is a serious national threat and a significant safety concern for all Australians.
Crime Stoppers Queensland has launched Phase 2 of its Illicit Firearms Campaign with a clear message to Queenslanders: ‘keeping our communities safe and free of illicit weapons is everyone’s responsibility'.
Crime Stoppers Queensland Regional Manager Renae Long said while Australia had some of the toughest gun controls in the world, illicit firearms were an increasingly desirable commodity facilitating criminal activity and putting the local community in danger.
“Phase 1 of our campaign in 2021 was to encourage those with unregistered or unwanted firearms to surrender without penalty.
“Now in Phase 2, we want Queenslanders to share what they know when it comes to illicit firearms in their community,” she said.
“Protecting our loved ones and making our communities safer is everyone’s responsibility.”
Renae said everyone had an important role to play in ensuring illicit firearms do not get into the hands of criminals.
“If you know someone who has an unregistered or illegal firearm, you can tell Crime Stoppers Queensland without having to say who you are or get involved,” she said.
“Now is the time to reduce firearm violence on our streets and in our homes. Queenslanders can feel safe in knowing that when reporting illicit firearms in your community to Crime Stoppers, you will remain anonymous.”
Bundaberg Patrol Group Inspector Anne Vogler said long arms (rifles and shotguns) remained the most common type of firearm to be used in a criminal offence within the Bundaberg Region.
“The number of rural properties targeted, whilst low in number, are vulnerable to this type of crime as it is highly likely the occupants are weapons licence holders, and likely in possession of firearms being stored at the address,” she said.
“Most Bundaberg Patrol Group rural or semi-rural offence properties targeted were unoccupied for various lengths of time.
“Complainants also reported long-term absences from the properties, resulting in thefts being identified long after the occurrence happened.
“Partnership working is an important strategy in reducing the theft of firearms within the Patrol Group and wider District.”
The theft of firearms poses a threat to society, as they may be transferred from the legitimate to the illegitimate firearms markets. Stolen firearms have resulted in being linked to criminal activities.
“I encourage the community of Bundaberg and its smaller regional communities to support this campaign to help make the community safer,” Inspector Anne Vogler said.
“With the community's help we can make an impact on the number of illicit firearms in our community.”
Firearms a community concern
An estimated 5 per cent of all calls placed to Crime Stoppers each year relate to concerns regarding firearms in the community.
Australia has an estimated 250,000 long arm and 10,000 handguns that are either unregistered or unable to be registered, as well as prohibited accessories such as silencers and ammunition.
Crime Stoppers Queensland has strengthened its fight against gun crime by working with local police and Queensland communities, to safeguard, educate and intervene at the earliest opportunity.
Serious and organised crime groups are looking to access firearms for criminal purposes, but an increasing number are trafficking firearms as a means of income.
The Australian Institute of Criminology has found that the illicit darknet firearms market, while relatively small compared with other illicit products markets on the darknet, is notable.
The Illicit Firearms Campaign is a positive, ongoing effort by Crime Stoppers Queensland to reduce the number of, and access to, illicit unregistered firearms in the community.
Being caught with an unregistered or illegal firearm outside amnesty conditions could result in a fine of up to $66,725, up to 13 years in jail, and a criminal record.
Information about individual state and territory requirements, including how and where to surrender firearms, can be found at www.crimestoppers.com.au.