Officials have no idea how many illegal guns are in Australia

A parliamentary inquiry has found that Australian authorities have no true data on how many illegal guns are in the country.

The Senate committee’s report says that despite the Australian Crime Commission estimating there are approximately 260,000 illegal guns, the figure is seen as a “conservative” guess.

The uncertainty around the size of the illicit market has prompted the Senate to call for improvements in the country’s record-keeping of firearms, including how it is collected and how accurate it is, as well as cracking down on the regulations around 3D printing.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the inquiry found that much of the data kept by authorities was out of date and that there was a discrepancy between the types of data sets kept by the ACC and the Australian Institute of Criminology – the only organisations in Australia to keep such information.

Australia’s gun ownership laws are among the strictest in the world.

Following the 1996 shooting spree that left 35 Australians dead at Port Arthur in Tasmania, John Howard’s government has implemented a major overhaul of gun laws, including banning all automatic and semi-automatic weapons and introducing tougher licensing rules.

No mass shootings have occurred in Australia since the 1996 incident.

Among other gun rules, Australians must demonstrate a justifiable need to have a gun. Read more about that here.

But with the evolving capabilities of 3D printing, lawmakers are presented with a problem — how do you control the production of illegal weapons?

Two months ago, Queensland police arrested a 28-year-old man for the alleged possession of a number of 3D-printed weapons and enough parts to make four handguns.

Last year, the Palmer United Party introduced a private member’s bill to the Queensland Parliament proposing to regulate creation and possession of 3D-printed firearms, but it was rejected by a parliamentary committee.

Despite no specific laws regarding the printing of 3D guns, under current laws, the manufacturing weapons – using a 3D printer or any other means – is an offence.

In 2013, NSW Police Force made 3D printable weapons to see the effeciency of the products and found “they are truly undetectedable, truly untraceable, cheap, easy to make”.

Police ballistics confirmed the guns can cause fatal injuries and can also be dangerous for users. Read more about that here.

The SMH has more.

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