POLICE COLLEGE

                 INSPECTORS, COURSE NO. 51 - 1986

For an official copy of this document, contact:

     David Foley, Superintendent, Freedom of Information Officer
     Freedom of Information Unit
     P.O. Box 415
     Melbourne 3005
     Victoria, Australia
     Phone: (61 3) 9247 6801       Fax: (61 3) 9247 5736

                     RESEARCH LECTURE PAPER

                           PREPARED BY

                          S. W. WATERMAN

                      SENIOR SERGEANT 15548

                     VICTORIA POLICE COLLEGE

               INSPECTORS' COURSE NO. 51 - 1986

                    RESEARCH LECTURE PAPER



Firearms have been present in our community since Australia was
founded in 1788.  In chose early days settlers relied upon the firearm
to defend themselves and their families from their enemies and to
provide a means of procuring sustenance for the family table.

Neither of those requisites for ownership of a firearm exist in
today's society, however the number of firearms present in our
community is estimated at a staggering one million, almost all of
which are owned and used for sporting purposes.  In recent times the
proliferation of firearms, as cause to Governments to impose stricter
ownership controls and stricter means of usage.  Registration is one
such measure and has been adopted universally by Democratically
elected Governments such as those in the Australian States, New
Zealand and Great Britain.

The mandatory registration of firearms has been instituted in Victoria
since 1983, in the interim period of 3 years other Australian States
and overseas countries have seen fit to abandon the scheme and replace
it with stricter forms of firearms ownership.  With these recent
events in. mind the topic of firearms registration and control of
firearms legislation by police has been critically examined.

Legislation of Australian States, New Zealand and Great Britain has
been reviewed and interviews conducted with members of the legal
service, Police firearms authorities and officials from the sports
shooting fraternities with the view of obtaining a global view of
community feelings.

The conclusions are quite apparent and the recommendations sound-
There can be no doubt that firearm registration is ineffective and
that education of the firearm user of paramount importance. In
conclusion there is also little doubt that the Police as a body are
the most suitable agency to supervise firearms legislation and

                               - 1 -


                          POLICE COLLEGE

                 INSPECTORS, COURSE NO. 51 - 1986

                     RESEARCH LECTURE PAPER


                        TABLE OF CONTENTS

  Item                                         Page     Paragraph
History of Victorian Firearms Control          3 - 9
	Initial Legislation                      3          6 -  7    
 	First Firearms Act                       3          8 -  9    
  	Objectives of Current Firearms Act       3         10         
  	Shooters Licence                         4         11 - 12    
  	Licensing Procedures                     4         13         
  	Licence Fee and Proviso's                5         14         
  	Renewal of Shooters Licence Fee          5         15         
  	Cancellation of Shooters Licence         5         16 - 17    
  	Firearm Registration                     5         18 - 20

Contributors & Resistance to Legislation         6         21 - 24  
	Implementation to Registration           7         25 - 26  
	Notice of Disposal                       7         27 - 78
	Airguns and Air rifles                   8         29 - 31
	Registration of Pistols                  9         32 - 35

New South Wales Licensing and Registration       9         11
	Licensing of Firearms                    9         36 - 37    

	Police Discretion                       10         38   
	Revocation                              10         39       
	Registration                            10         40 - 41
	Comment                                 11         42

Queensland Legislation                        11 - 12
	No Existing Licensing Scheme            11         43
	Reason Why No Gun Controls              11         44
	Comment                                 12         45

                              - i -

                         TABLE OF CONTENTS
  Item                                         Page     Paragraph
South Australian Legislation                 12 - 14
	Licensing                               12         46 - 48
	Registration                            13         49
	Revocation of Licence                   13         50
	Firearms Consultative Committee         13         51
	Comment                                 14         51

Northern Territory Legislation               14 - 15
	Licensing                               14         52
	Registration                            15         56
	Comment                                 15         57

West. Australian Legislation                 15 - 16
	Licensing Procedure                     15         58 - 59
	Registration                            16         60 - 62
   	Comment                                 16         63

Tasmania Legislation                         16 - 17
	Firearms Control                        16         64 - 65

A.C.T. Legislation                           17 - 18
	Firearms Legislation                    17         66
	Application for Firearm Licence         17         67
	Registration                            17         68

United Kingdom Legislation                  13 - 20
	Firearm Laws                            15         69 - 70
	Police Involvement                      15         71 - 74
	Effectiveness of Policy                 19         75 - 78
 	Renewal of Registration                 20         79
New Zealand Registration                    20 - 23
	Firearm Registration                    21         80 - 83 
	Board of Enquiry                        21         84 - 85
	Licensing Procedures for Firearm Owners 22         86
	Tables of Comparisons                   23         87

Interviews and Opinions                         23
	Sports Shooting Association             23         88
	Government Statute Draughtsman          24         89

                                - ii -

                         TABLE OF CONTENTS
  Item                                        Page     Paragraph
Conclusions                                  25 - 28
	Areas Reviewed                          25         90 - 91
	Number of Firearms in Victoria          26         92 - 94

Registration of Firearms "Is it a Police        27         95         
	Registrar                               27         96
	Police Role                             27         97 - 98

Can the Task of Registration be effectively     27         99 - 100   
carried out
	Registration and Administration -
		Police Role                    2,3        101 - 106
		Lack of Firearms Safety Tests   29        107
                    in Victoria

Recommendations                              29 - 30
	Reposed Amendment                       29        108
	Political Motives                       30        109
	Education                               30        110
	Police Control                          30        111

Bibliography                                  31 - 32
Appendix A                                    33 - 38
         B                                    39 - 42
         C                                      43
         D                                    44 - 49
         E                                      50
         F Old Police Perspective               51
         G                                      52
         H                                      53
         I                                      54
         J                                      55

                            - iii -              


                         POLICE COLLEGE

                 INSPECTORS' COURSE NO. 51 - 1986

                      RESEARCH LECTURE PAPER


                       ALPHABETICAL INDEX

  Item                                        Page     Paragraph

Abandoned Registration - South Australia        14         51
A.C.T. Legislation -                            17         66 - 68
	- Application for Firearm Licence       17         67
Airguns and Air Rifles  - Definition             8         29 - 30
			- South Australia       12         47
			- Victoria               8         29 - 30
Arms Act - New Zealand                          20         80
Australian Firearms Law Institute               11         41
Australian Police Federation                     6         21

Brower, Robert                                   8         31
Bureau of Statistics - Australia                 2          1

Cancellation of Shooters Licence - Victoria      5         18         
Civillian Administration - Victoria             25         89         
Civil liberties invasion - Victoria             24         88         
Clarke, Edward                                  26         92         
Conclusions                                  25 - 29       90 - 107
Cost-effectiveness - Dollars                    25         89
		   - Objective                  25         89
Criminal Element                                 9         35
Criminal Records -  United Kingdom              17         72
                 -  New Zealand                 21         82

Emmersley, Robert                               24         89
Enquiry - New Zealand                           21         83 - 85

Fine, David J.                                  13         51
Firearms - Australia                             2          1
         - Consultative Committee - South Au.   13         51
         - Consultative Committee - Victoria     9         31
Firearms Education                              30        110
Firearms - Registration - Victoria               3         16
         - New South Wales                      10         40 - 41
         - South Australia                      13         49
         - Queensland                           11         49 

                               - iv -

                         ALPHABETICAL INDEX

  Item                                        Page     Paragraph

Firearms Registration   - Tasmania              16         64
			- A.C.T.                17         68
			- United Kingdom        19         71
			- New-Zealand           20         80
			- Northern Territory    15         56
			- West Australia        16         60 - 62
Firearms Traders Association - Victoria          6         23

Game Act Victoria                                3          7
Government Statute Draughtsman                  24         88
Greenwood, Colin                                27         89
Gun Dealer Victoria                              7         25 - 27

Homicides - Northern Territory                  15         57
Humane Killing Devices                           4         11
Illegal Firearms                                 9         31         
Ill Feeling - Firearms Inspector                23         88
Illegal Firearm                                  9         31

Labour Government 	- Left Wing             23         88
			- Victoria               5         18
Licensing Procedures 	- A.C.T                 17         66 - 68
	                - New South Wales        9    	   36
			- Northern Territory    14         52
			- New Zealand           72         86
			- Queensland            11         43 - 44
			- South Australia       12         46
			- Tasmania              16         64
			- Victoria               4         13
			- United Kingdom        19         73 - 74
			- West Australia        15         59
Licence Fee - Victoria                           5         14
	"	"                                5         19
	"	"                               25         89

New South Wales Legislation                      9         35 - 39
New Zealand 	- Board of Enquiry              21         84 - 85
		- Legislation                   23         80 - 87
		- Mountain Safety Council       22         86 - 87

Non Registration - Victoria                     26         92
Notice of Acquisition - Victoria                 8         28
Notice of Sale - Victoria                        8         28
Northern Territory - Legislation                14         52 - 57
Number of Firearms allowed - Victoria           26         92

Objectives of Act - Victoria                     4         10
                                                24         89

                               - v -

                         ALPHABETICAL INDEX

  Item                                        Page       Paragraph
Pea Rifle and Saloon Gun Act                     3          7
Pistols - Victoria                               9         33 - 35
Police control of Act	- A.C-T.                17         66
			- New South Wales       11         42
			- Northern Territory    14         52
			- New Zealand           21         81 - 83
			- Queensland            12         45
			- South Australia       12         46
			- Tasmania              16         64 - 65
			- Victoria               3         14
			- United Kingdom        18         71
			- West Australia        15         59
Police Prosecutions - Victoria                  25         89
Police Role                                     26         97 - 98
Politics                                        29        100

Queensland Government                           12         45
Queensland Legislation                          11         43 - 45
Registrar - Firearms	- A.C.T.                17         67
			- Victoria               9         32
Rippon. Tom                                      6         19
Registration of Firearms - A.C.T.               17         76 - 77
			 - New South Wales      11         42
			 - Northern Territory   15         56
			 - New Zealand          21         81 - 83
			 - Queensland           11         44
			 - South Australia      13         49
			 - Tasmania             16         64 - 65
			 - Victoria              9         32
                         - United Kingdom       18         71
			 - West Australia       16         60

Safety Tests 	- lack of                       29        107
		- New Zealand                   22         86
		- Recommended                   30        110
Shark gun - power heads                          4         11
Shooting - Sports Council of Victoria            8         31
Shot guns - United Kingdom                      17         70
South Australian Legislation                    12         46 - 51
Survey - Firearms                               13         48
Sports Shooting Association                     23         88

Tasmanian Legislation                           16         64 - 66
          Surveys                               17         65

                              - vi -

                      ALPHABETICAL INDEX

  Item                                        Page     Paragraph

United Kingdom	- Applications                  19         73 - 74
        	- Fees                          24         88
		- Legislation                 18 - 20      69 - 79

Victorian Firearms Act - First                   3          8 - 9
Victorian Voters                                 6         23 - 24

Wales - Firearms Numbers                        29         76
West Australia Legislation                      15         58 - 63

                             - vii -


                          POLICE COLLEGE

                   OFFICERS' COURSE NO. 51 - 1986

                     RESEARCH LECTURE PAPER



Firearms in the Community

1.    In the last official survey in 1975 carried out by the Bureau of
Australian Statistics (1) there were estimated to be 1,354,700
firearms in Australia and 338,200 in Victoria.     (See Appendix "A").

2.    There has been no survey conducted since 1975 but the latest
estimates of firearms in Victoria by the Firearms Registry in 1982
suggests one million, a dramatic rise in eleven years. (2).

3.    Up until April 1986 there was 260,000 licensed shooters' or gun
owners' in Victoria. A further 20,000 persons were anticipated to
become licensed by June 1986. The current estimates put the number of
firearms per licensed persons at 2.8 firearms. In interpreting those
figures and the inclusion of airguns and rifles then the figure of
1,000,000 firearms becomes realistic.  (3)

Purpose for this Paper

4.    It is my intention in this paper co critically examine some
aspects of firearms registration and the control in licensing the
persons to use these firearms.  More importantly, should it be a
Police responsibility and can this be effectively carried out and

(1) General Social Survey. Australian Bureau of Statistics..          
    1975.   p.3
(2) Interview with the Registrar of Firearms for the State of         
    Victoria Chief Inspector B. Fennessy on April 5th, 1986.
(3) Interview with Chief Inspector Fennessy.

                              - 2 -

5.   In drawing my conclusion I have made use of my research both in
Victoria, other Australian States and overseas in respect to firearm

History of Victorian Firearms Control

6.     Initial Legislation.  The first recorded Victorian legislation
to control the use and possession of firearms was The Pea Rifle and
Saloon Gun Act proclaimed on November 25th. 1912. (See Appendix "B"). 
In essence the Act was introduced in order to set the legal minimum
age for ownership of Pea rifles and Saloon guns, legislation was also
made to create the offences of  supplying pea rifles, saloon guns and
ammunition to persons under 18 years of age.  It is interesting to
note that at this time  firearm control was made a police
responsibility in the  organization and control of the Act.

7.     The Game Act (now the Wildlife Act) was also responsible for
the prohibition of shooting certain species of animals and for setting
bag limits for game and controlling the type of firearms used for
taking game.

8.     First Firearms Act. In 1922 the first Victorian firearms Act
was proclaimed and closely followed the workings of the English Act
that had beer& proclaimed two years earlier.  Apart from controlling
@un dealers it also made police permission necessary to Purchase or
possess a concealable firearm (pistol).

9.     From 1953 to 1972 the Act extended the provision to include
rifles other than pea rifles.  This provision was introduced to try to
keep control over high powered rifles and the people who used them. 
Members of the shooting fraternity expressed considerable
dissatisfaction with these provisions and in 1972, following several
reports of the Statute Law Revision Committee of the 1960's, the then
Liberal Government repealed the  legislation and introduced the
Shooters Licence, the system that we now operate under.

10.    Objectives of Current Firearms Act.  The present day Firearms
Act has now consolidated all firearms offences and they are now
included in the one Act.  The Act has been proclaimed to:

	(a) Control firearm sales and their safe use.

	(b) Allow those who participate in firearms sport-to do SC,   
            in a controlled manner.
        (c) support the security industry.

	(d) Control and regulate the safe use and presence of
            firearms in the community.

                              - 3 -

11.   Shooters Licence.  From 1972 to 1983 the only firearms required
to be registered related to pistols and instruments like humane
killing devices shark gun power heads and similarly declared weapons.

12.   During this period legislation was enacted that required all
persons who were to purchase, carry, possess or use certain firearms
to hold a shooters licence, permit or other authority.  This
legislation was to cover, rifles, shotguns etc.

	"Subject to the provisions of this Act no person shall        
         purchase, possess, carry or use a firearm of a type in any   
         category referred to in sub-section (4) unless he holds a    
         shooters licence, permit or other authority granted under
         parc authorizing him to purchase, possess, carry or use such 
         firearm".   (4)

13.   Licensing Procedures.  Any persons resident in the State of
Victoria who requires a shooters licence has only to go to his local
Police Station, where he will be interviewed by a  Policeman. 
Providing that he can produce sufficient identification and he can
satisfy the policeman that he is:-

	(a) of good character.                                        

	(b) over 18 years of age.
	(c) has good reason to possess a firearm.
	(d) good knowledge of firearm safety procedures and law.
	(e) will ensure proper storage of firearms when not in use.
	(f) is not insane, of sober habit and otherwise a person fit
            to be trusted to use the firearm properly.
        Then after a cooling off period of 3 weeks be issued with a
Shooters Licence vide Section 4 of sub-section 22AA of the Firearms
    (4)     (a)     Every shooters-licence shall be in the prescribed 

                    form and shall authorize the holder -

                    (i) to purchase, possess, carry and use any
                        firearm (not being a pistol) of any one
                        or more of the following categories specified
                        in the licence:-

                         A - Shot gun.

                         B - Pea rifle, air gun, air rifle.

                         C - Any other rifle.    (5)

(4) Firearms Acc 1958. No. 6251. Section 2TAA (1).
(5) Firearms Act 1958. No. 6251. Section 22AA (4) (a).

                              - 4 -

14.   Licence Fee & Proviso's.  At present the annual fee for a
shooters licence is $10.00 per year- The applicant may select either
an annual licence or a three year licence.  The Government has also
made provision for exemptions from payment for primary producers and
their employees.  Pensioners may also obtain licences at a reduced

15.   Renewal of Shooters & Licence Fee.  Upon the expiration of the
shooters licence the holder must decide if he wishes to renew the
licence or not.  Provided that he is still a suitable person he may
pay his renewal fee at his local bank.  The police do not' play any
role in the renewal process and fee collection.

16.   Cancellation of Shooters Licence.  The Registrar may cancel any
shooters licence it in his opinion the holder of a licence:-

    (a) Has proved to be irresponsible for the handling, care and
        storage of the firearm when nor in use.

    (b) Is shown not to be of good character.

    (c) Has wilfully made a false statement on his application form
        for a shooters licence.

    (d) Has been convicted in Australia of an offence which
        renders him as an unsuitable person to hold a licence.

17.   The Registrar of the firearms may also apply to the Firearms
Consultative Committee for cancellation of a shooters licence if the
licensee is a person of intemperate habits or insane or otherwise
unfitted to be entrusted with the care and use of firearms.

Firearm Registration

18.   Reviewing of the Legislation.  As previously mentioned in
paragraph 9 a form of firearm registration existed in Victoria between
1953 and 1972.  However in 1983 the Labour Government of Victoria
introduced as legislation the mandatory registering of all firearms
within Victoria.  The registration was to be phased in over a period
of 4 years by each licensed shooter submitting derails of his or her
firearms when they renewed their shooters licences.  At the same time
Licensed Gun Dealers were to also submit details of firearms sales as
they were made, buyers and sellers of firearms were also to submit the
relevant details to the Firearms Registrar.  The purpose of this
exercise was to have on record by February 1987, every firearm in the
State of Victoria.

19.   A fee of $1.00 per firearm was set as the total registration
amount.  The firearm was to be registered on a once only basis
provided that it was not re-sold.  The Victoria Police were made the
organizing body and a new position entitled 'Registrar of Firearms'

                              - 5 -

20.   Prior to the implementing of firearms registration the various
factions of the shooting fraternity protested against registration in
a vigourous manner.  To appreciate the situation in Victoria it is
necessary to examine the events leading up to registration.

21.   Contributers & Resistance to Legislation Changes.  In 1979,
Delegates of the Australian Police Federation met in Darwin to discuss
points of mutual interest.  Inspector T. Rippon the Secretary of the
Victoria Police Association was present at the meeting and in an
interview with him on April 7th, 1986 he related the following

    (a) Delegates from all States of Australia adopted the view
        that the spread of firearms throughout. the community
        should be contained.

    (b) That no one person should be permitted to possess more
        than three firearms without having to show cause why they
        should have another.

    (c) That all firearms should be registered and those records
        computerised for the use of police in combatting crime.  (6)

    (d) That the Delegates from each Australian State should
        adopt this policy as the official Police Federation
        policy and that their respective associations would lobby
        their state government opposition parties to adopt their

22.   Inspector Rippon states that in 1981 the Labour Party were in
opposition and that they adopted the majority of the recommendations
made by the Police Association.  They did however propose the number
of firearms allowable to each person before having to show cause, to

23.   Upon this formula becoming public the Firearms Traders
Association and several large firearms companies such as Remington and
Winchester petitioned the 380,000 licensed shooters in Victoria
recommending co them not to vote Labour as registration was an
invasion of their privacy and the restriction in the number of
firearms permitted an infringement on their rights. (The notice
distributed is attached at Appendix "C").

24.   In addition members of the various shooting associations
circulated papers (Appendix "D" also see interviews in paragraph's 88
and 89) advocating none of their members vote Labour at the
forthcoming elections.  The Labour party realised that they could
jeopardise those 380,000 voters and thus modified their stance to the
present situation by not imposing a limit.

(6) Interview wich Inspector T. Rippon, Secretary of The Victoria
    Police Association, Melbourne on March 30th, 1986.

                             - 6 -

Implementation of Registration.

25.   on November 29th, 1983 the laws applicable to registration of
firearms came into operation under Section 22AA of the Firearms Act. 
The Sub-sections are as follows:-

   " (11) Every person who is the holder of a shooters licence at
	  the commencement of Section 11 of the Firearms (Amendment) 
	  Act 1983 shall when he next applies for renewal of his
          licence after the said commencement notify the registrar in
	  writing the particulars as prescribed of all firearms then
	  in his possession and shall forward with the notification a
	  fee of $1 for each of those firearms.

     (12) When issuing or renewing a shooters licence the registrar
          shall record upon the licence particulars of all firearms in
	  the possession of the holder of the licence and in
	  circumstances where such recording is not practicable, may
	  issue a certificate of registration in respect of chose

     (13) The holder of a shooters licence who acquires a firearm
	  as a beneficiary under a will shall within 14 days of 
	  acquiring the firearm complete and forward to the Registrar
	  a Notice of Acquisition of the firearm in the prescribed
	  form".     (7)

26.   The above provisions relate to people already in possession of
firearms at the time of the commencement of the Registration period. 
In addition    Legislative provision was made for people who buy and
sell firearms other than antiques, firearms or pistols.  Any person
who sells a firearm to:-

     (a) Any person required by this Act to have firearms in his
	 possession registered; or

     (b) A licensed gun dealer -

shall at the time of the sale deliver to the purchaser a completed
Notice of Disposal in the prescribed form together with the current
Registration of the firearm (if any). (8)

Notice of Disposal

27.   Legislation has also been made to cover the situation whereby
the purchaser is not required to have the firearm registered, i.e. an
interstate buyer:-

(7) Ibid., Section 22AA (11) (12) (13).

(8) Ibid., Section 22AA (9).

                              - 7 -

      "Any person who sells a registered firearm, not being a pistol
       or antique firearm to any person not required by this Act to
       have firearms in his possession registered (other than a
       licensed gun dealer) shall within 14 days of the sale deliver
       or cause to be delivered to the Registrar a completed Notice of
       Disposal in the prescribed form together with the current
       certificate of registration of the firearm".  (9)

28.   Just as the seller has an obligation to notify the Registrar so
does the purchaser:-

       "Within fourteen days of the sale of a firearm, not being a
        pistol or antique firearm, the purchaser of the firearm, if
        required by this Act co have firearms in his possession
        registered or if a licensed gun dealer shall send or deliver
        to the Registrar:-

         (a) A completed Notice of Aquisition in the prescribed form;

         (b) The Notice of Disposal and Certificate of Registration
             (if any) delivered to him under sub-section (2B); and

         (c) A fee of $1.00".    (10)

Airguns and Air Rifles

29.   Air guns and Air Rifles are now included in the definition of
firearm.  Formerly this was not the case however in an effort co
create uniformity throughout Australia almost all states amended their
legislation to include air guns and air rifles as firearms.  Tasmania
was the only state not to amend their legislation.

30.   It is however difficult to make any sort of estimate as to how
many air guns and air rifles there are in the community as in the past
there was little or no control over ownership. Formerly the only forms
of control have been in relation to trespass to farms and young
persons seeking an authority from the Officer In Charge of the local
police station granting him permission to carry and use such weapons.

31.   The inclusion of air guns and-air rifles in the definition of
'firearm' has introduced a whole new range of shooters licence
applicants.  There is no doubt that there are significant numbers of
such firearms in the community.  In an interview with Robert Brewer,
the Secretary of Shooting Sports Council of Victoria, he stated chat
he had inspected the importation figures over the past several years
and he had no doubt that there was a minimum of 200,000 air guns and
air rifles in the community. (11)
(9) ibid., Section 22AA (2C).

(10) Ibid., Section 22AA (2D).

(11) Interview with Robert Brewer, Secretary of the Victorian         
     Shooters Sports Council.

                                - 8 -

Registration of Pistols

32.   One of the major duties of the Registrar of Firearms in Victoria
is the issue of pistol licences to approved applicants.  Most licences
for pistols in Victoria relate to members of sporting or shooting
clubs and the Security industry. in the past employee's of security
companies were personally licensed and owned their own handguns, this
created problems particularly after the employee had finished work. 
The situation has now been altered and the company holds the pistol
licence, the employee receives his firearm at the start of work and
hands it in at the completion of his shift.

33.   At the completion of 1985 there were 12,028 pistols and handguns
in the State of Victoria and 14,574 licences to carry these firearms.
(Appendix E) A thorough screening is given to all applicants for
licences and this assists to eliminate those that are considered
unsuitable to hold a pistol licence.

34.   The Registrar has the power to cancel pistol licences for
persons no longer found to be suitable, this in fact happens from time
to time.  The licence holder has a right of appeal to the Firearms
Consultative Committee, upon receiving an adverse decision he also has
the right to appeal to a magistrates Court.

35.   This particular area of firearms control is well managed and the
incidence of offences detected by licensed pistol owners is minimal. 
Whilst it must be accepted that there will allways be illicit handguns
and pistols in the hands of criminals, the control of legal pistols
etc. and the licensing of those individuals is an excellent example of
good management by Police Administration.

       "If the legal distribution of firearms were restricted, the
       illegal sources of supply - theft, smuggling and illegal
       manufacture - would greatly expand to fill this gap. The cold
       hard fact remains - the criminal element has allways found and
       will continue to find, a way to obtain an illegal firearm".(12)


Licensing of Firearms

36.   It is illegal in New South wales for a person to possess a rifle
or shotgun unless he has a current shooter's licence.  Applications
for shooter's licence can only be lodged at a Police Station or the
Police Firearms Registry.  It is the practise of the Police to issue
the shooter's licence immediately if the application lodged by the
applicant does not disclose any adverse information and the applicant
is over the age of 18 years.  Proof of age is required.

(12) The Police Chief, March 1985.  Article by Gregor J. Sambor,      
     'Tracing Firearms'. p.75.

                                - 9 -

37.   The applicant may be required to undertake a written or oral
test chat relates to safety procedures appropriate to the class of
firearm he desires.

Police Discretion
38.   The Commissioner of New South Wales Police has vested in him
unlimited discretion to grant or refuse shooter's licences. It also
enjoins him not to licence persons unless they are:-

   (a) Of good character and repute.

   (b) Fit and proper to possess firearms.

39.   The Commissioner and the Registrar have the power to revoke a
shooters licence in New South Wales but only on certain conditions,
the are:-

   (a) Applicant made false statements on his application when
       applying for a shooters licence.

   (b) Where he is convicted in New South Wales or elsewhere of a
       firearms offence.

   (c) Where the holder of a licence can no longer afford the licensed
       firearms adequate control or where he is proved to be negligent
       and careless in the use of a firearm.

Upon receipt of notice that his licence is revoked the applicant is to
surrender same to the Police.    (13)

Registration of Firearms

40.   A recent amendment to the Firearms Act has now included
mandatory firearm registration.  Initially the N.S.W. Government went
against registration preferring to make the penalties for firearms
offences and crimes involving firearms much heavier than they had
been.  The incidence of armed robberies and other firearm related
crime has now been instrumental in their change of direction.  In
1983, there were over 1,000 armed robberies alone. (14)

(13) Firearms Laws in Australia.  J. David Fine.  CCH Australia       
     Limited, Sydney, N.S.W. p.4.

(14) N.S.W. Armed Robbery Squad 1983 statistics.

                               - 10 -


41.    At present Registration is accomplished in two ways.  Rifles
and shotguns owned before the introduction of registration  must be
registered with the Police and the fee paid then.  Only  holders of
current shooters licences are permitted to register long guns and
Police have the power to demand inspection of the firearm before
registration.  Long guns acquired after the start of the registration
scheme will now be registered automatically  by the police as a permit
is now required to purchase a particular firearm before the actual
purchase takes place.  There is no limit on the number of firearms
one may own.


42.   N.S.W. legislation is now very similar to Victorian
legislation with the added rule that one must obtain a permit to
purchase a long gun before he can actually buy the firearm.  The
Police as in Victoria control the issue of shooters licences and
registration of the firearms. 

                    QUEENSLAND LEGISLATION 

No Existing Licensing Scheme 

43.   Unless one comes within a class of prevented or prohibited 
persons, anyone can own, use, acquire and dispose of rifles and 
shotguns in Queensland without the need for a licence or permit. 
Queensland neither licences shooters nor issues licences in respect 
of long guns.  Pistols are registered and the owners licensed. 

Reason Why No Controls 

44.  Although some members of the community expressed concern  at
the lack of firearm legislation, members of the Australian Firearm 
Law Institute conducted a comparison test between Queensland,  West
Australia and the Northern Territory who have had licensing and 
registration procedures dating back to 1950.  West Australia was 
selected because it has the longest history of restrictive legislation
in Australia.  It was found after comparing the three states,  two
with severe restrictions on firearms and the other with almost  no
restrictions that there was very little difference between them  and
that in almost every component Queensland fared slightly better.  On
this basis alone it was decided not to introduce licensing  shooters
or registration. (15) 


(15)  Firearms Control.  Carl G. Vandal.  Australian Firearm Law      
      Institute 1984, reprint. p.7. 

                             - 11 -


45.   The same survey showed that if the Queensland Government  were
to introduce licensing of firearm owners and register those  firearms
then they would effectively require a further 282 personnel  and that
the total cost of implementing such a scheme would be  in excess of
six million dollars.  The Government felt that to  introduce such a
scheme would reduce the effective strength of  the Police Force by 6½
per cent.  The Government concluded that  in Queenslands case it was
not cost effective to introduce restrictive  firearms legislation. 
See Appendix "F".    (16) 



46.   One must have a licence to possess any firearms in South 
Australia and that licence must be in respect of the class of firearm 
one wishes to possess.  The Police are legally responsible to  licence
all people who meet the requirement: of the Act.  Those  requirements

 (a)  over the age of 15 years. 

 (b)  that he is a fit and proper person to hold a licence.           
      i.e. no history of mental disorder etc. 

47.   The applicant is required to pass a written examination  in
the rudiments of firearms safety.  The licence is only applicable  to
the type of firearm:- 

       Class "A"  -   air rifle, air gun, .22 calibre rifle.
       Class "B"  -   shot gun.

       Class "C"  -   pistol.

       Class "D"  -   all other firearms except dangerous weapons.    

                     i.e. machine gun, gas pistol etc.".     (17)


(16) ibid., n.16. 

(17) The South Australian Firearms Act 1977. Regulation 7. 

                              - 12 -


48.   Prior to 1977 there were no firearms legislation controlling 
firearm use or possession at all except for pistols.  Items like 
silencers were legal, in fact one of the influencing reasons for  the
decisions by the heads of the Australian Police Federation  to seek
uniformity throughout Australia in relation to firearms  law was a
liberal interpretation of firearms importing laws taken  by several
South Australian Gun Dealers.  During a drug raid in  1979 a number of
"UZI" style machine guns were located, no charges  could be levelled
at the dealer owing to the looseness of the then  firearms law.  The
1975 Australian Bureau of Statistics survey  found that there were
approximately 120,900 firearms in South Australia.  No doubt a
percentage of those firearms are owned or controlled  by criminals.


49.   Apart from its licensing and owners scheme South Australia 
also maintains a distinct scheme of firearms registration.  It  is an
offence to possess any firearm that has not been registered  as soon
as 'reasonably practicable' but no more than 14 days after 
acquisition of it. Prior to acquiring a firearm the applicant  must
have a shooters licence to suit the category of firearm to  be
purchased. (19) 

Revocation of Licence 

50.   Where the police believe that a person is no longer fit  and
proper to be licensed they may apply to the Firearms Consultative 
Committee to revoke the persons firearms licences.  Upon notice  of
his licence being revoked a person must hand it in to the police 

Firearms Consultative Committee  

51.   The Firearms Consultative Committee is comprised of a 
Chairman, generally an Assistant Commissioner of Police, a lawyer  and
a representative of the shooting fraternity.  The panel is  appointed
annually by the Government.  In addition the Chief Commissioner  of
Police who by law is also the Firearms Registrar personally  passes
judgement on every decision that is adverse against a persons 
firearms licence in South Australia.  The author of Firearms Laws  in
Australia,  J. David Fine comments in his book:- 

     "Whilst this structure may result in the appearance of partiality
      towards police decisions which the Committee is charged to      
      review the author is informed that in 7 years of the Committee's
      operations no complaints have been raised on this ground".  (20)


(18) Australian Bureau of Statistics.        op. cit. 

(19) Firearm Law in Australia.       op. cir., p.49. 

(20) Firearm Law in Australia.       op. cit., p.48. 

                               - 13 - 


51.   South Australian Firearms Legislation is similar to Victorian 
Legislation in that the police control the legislation and
registration procedures.  As mentioned in paragraph 48, prior to 1977
the Firearms laws in South Australia were very loose and permitted
almost unlimited ownership of firearms.  The new Act declared in 1977
however rectified this situation.  At the time of writing this report
however moves are being made to abandon registration. This will be
discussed later on in the paper. 



52.   The Northern Territory has enjoyed a form of Firearms  control
since the early 1950's.  At present the firearms legislation  is found
in the Northern Territory Firearms Act, 1979.  Licensing  of persons
who own firearms and registration of those firearms  is employed by 
he Act. 

53.   A  licence will only be issued to an applicant if he is  of or
above the age of 18 years and satisfies the Commissioner  of the
following requirements:- 

       (a) he is a fit and proper person to possess, a firearm. 

       (b) that he has an adequate knowledge of firearm safety laws. 

       (c) that he has not been convicted of a firearm related offence
           in the Territory or any other State of Australia.
       (d) that he has an adequate knowledge of the Territory Firearm 
           Laws.     (21) 

54.   Should he wish to obtain Class C & D licence (pistol and
machine gun type) he must be prepared to show cause.  Character 
checks are conducted as to the suitability of the applicant. 

55.   The applicant must undergo a written test and answer nine out
of the ten questions correctly. The licence when issued  is issued for
a minimum of three years and is endorsed with the  type, calibre and
make and serial number of the firearm. 


(21)       Firearm Laws in Australia.        op. cit., p. 116 

                                - 14 -


56.   All firearms must be registered and firearm registration 
certificates can only be issued by the police to the owners of 
weapons, proof of ownership must be produced at the time of ownership.

One is obliged to register firearms with the police within 14 days of
taking possession of them.  The registration is valid until the
firearm is either lost, stolen or sold. Registration will also lapse
if the firearm alters in a manner that affects its safety or
qualification for that particular class. 


57.   The Northern Territory has one of the oldest firearms control
legislations in Australia.  In 1981 it was updated and  made to
conform more with the other states of Australia.  Interestingly 
enough for all its firearm controls it still has largest pro-rata 
firearm incidents in Australia.  For example in 1981 there were  six
homicides by firearms in each million people in Australia, in the
Northern Territory on the same basis there were 49 Homicides per
million people.  Similarly in 1981 for each 2,531 guns in the
Territory there was one gun related homicide, throughout Australia 
there was one such death for each 28,090 guns.(22) 


Licensing Procedure 

58.   In order to own or possess a firearm in West Australia  the
applicant must be:- 

        (a) over 16 years of age and of good character. 

        (b) possess a good reason for wanting a firearm. 

        (c) not be unfit to hold a licence.        (23) 

59.   The applicant must take his application form to the Police 
Station nearest his home and he must pass a written test on firearms 
safety and firearms law.  The Police conduct the test and are 
responsible for the issue of any licence or refusal to do so.  Upon
being refused the applicant may appeal to the local Magistrates 


(22)       Firearms Control.     op. cit., P.9. 
(23)       West Australian Firearm Act 1973. 

                             - 15 -


60.   Registration as it exists in Victoria and other States does
not apply here.  On each firearm  holders licence is endorsed the make
and calibre of the firearms he owns, this endorsement is  made at the
time of the granting of the licence or at a later date when he
purchases the firearm. The applicant cannot purchase or buy that
calibre of firearm unless he has the endorsement on  his licence. 
Individual serial numbers are not indexed and cross referenced to each
firearm licensee.  Police are the sole agency responsible for this

61.   There is no restriction on the number of firearms one may have
and upon purchasing a further firearm it is a simple matter to have
ones licence endorsed by the local police. 

62.   It is illegal to sell a firearm to persons other than a
licensed gun dealer or a person who is  licensed to possess that
particular brand and calibre firearm. 


63.   West Australian firearm laws are generally thought to be the
most stringent in Australia,  particularly in relation to licensing of
individuals and control of the type of firearms they can  possess. 
They do not have firearms registration laws which presently exist in
most States of  Australia, nor do they see the need to do so in the

                     TASMANIAN LEGISLATION 

Firearms Control 

64.   The Tasmanian Legislation is directed exclusively at the
ownership and possession of  handguns.  It does not in any way
restrict or regulate the possession of long arms.  Police control  the
issuing of licences in relation to pistols and gun dealers, they do
not have any control over  long arms at all. In fact a teenager of 16
years or over can buy a long arm of any description without any form
of licensing or instruction of its safe use.  It has been publicly
quoted that  Tasmania's gun laws were so lax that mainland criminals
visited the state for express  purpose of buying weapons for use in
interstate hold-ups, this being facilitated by the lack of 
identification required when purchasing firearms and the lack of
firearm registration. (24) 


 (24) Melbourne Sun, 8th March, 1979. 

                              - 16 -

65.   Surveys conducted in Tasmania in 1977 indicate that certain
areas of the community  wanted tighter firearms control.  The then
Attorney-General Mr. Miller promised at the time that  the Government
would look into the matter.  Nothing has been done since that time
except for a  general increase in penalty for offences involving
firearms.  There are no further facts or figures  since 1977 to
indicate any requirement for change to their firearm laws.  In a
survey conducted  by Professor Harding of the University of New South
Wales 85 per cent of firearm owners in  Tasmania gave sport as their
principle reason for owning a firearm. (25) 

                       A.C.T. LEGISLATION 

Firearms Legislation 

66.   The Firearms Laws in the Australian Capital Territory are
controlled by the Gun Licence  Ordinance of 1937.  It is an offence to
possess any firearm including an air rifle in the A.C.T.  without a
licence to possess one.  The ordinance requires that applicants to be
of at Least 16  years of age.  There are no other qualifications
required.  Any type of firearm other than a pistol  may be obtained. 
The ordinance does provide however, that no licence can be issued
before the  police are made aware of the persons application and no
licence can be issued if the police  object. 

Applications for Firearm Licence 

67.   The A.C.T. is unique in that it is the only State or Territory
in Australia that provides for  non police control of firearms
ownership.  The police have a right of 'veto' if the applicant, has a 
criminal record or is mentally unsound.  All firearms licences in the
A.C.T. are issued for one  year and must be then renewed.  The
Registrar of gun licences in Canberra is the official  Government body
to control firearms and he may if he wishes revoke any persons licence
at any  time upon conviction by that person of a criminal offence in
the A.C.T. or elsewhere. (26) 


68.    Whilst individual registration does   not exist as such, a
form of firearm registration exists  in that  each gun owner must be
licenced and that each licence entitles him to carry a firearm  of the
class described on the licence. There  is no restriction on the number
of firearms that each  person may  own.  (27) 


(25)    Hobart Mercury, August 13th, 1977. 

(26)    National Times, May 30th, 1977. 

(27)    Firearms Laws In Australia.   op. cit., p. 103. 

                              - 17 - 


Firearm Laws 

69.   Ownership and the registration of firearms in the United
Kingdom are controlled by the  Firearms Act 1968. Forms of
registration and licensing have existed in the United Kingdom  since
the end of World War One. The system used there varies greatly from
most Australian  States,   for example there are only two firearm
classifications which are:- 

       (a)  pistols and rifles. 

       (b)  shotguns. 

70.   Shotguns are not liable for individual registration.  A
registration fee must be paid if you  own one but there is no need to
record the brand name and serial number of each gun.  Rifles  and hand
guns are grouped together but must be individually registered. 

Police Involvement 

71.   As in Australia the Police are responsible in the United
Kingdom for the issue of firearms  certificates.  Conditions of issue
are however much more stringent than say in Victoria.   Requirements
for a firearm certificate are:- 

       (a)  sufficient reason to require a firearm. 

       (b)  safe storage area for firearm. 

       (C)  specify where the firearm and ammunition will be when not 
            in use.

       (d)  be of good character.   (28) 

72.   In addition to having a check of criminal records made by
police the applicant may have  to show some form of corroboration of
the facts contained on his application form.  It is not  unusual for
police to want to inspect where the firearm will be stored.  On this
point alone a lot  of people are discouraged from applying for
ownership of firearms. 


(28) Current Firearms Controls     op. cit., p. 203. 

                              - 18 -


73.   Unless the applicant is known personally to police enquiries
into his background will be  made.  Enquiries will be made with police
from areas that he frequents and generally an  Inspector will handle
the application personally.  Other factors that may influence the
police are  his family and close associates demeanour.  Should for
example there be a relative or close  friend residing in the same
premises as the applicant and that person has a prior conviction for 
violence or a history of drunkeness then the chances are that the
application will be turned down.   The applicant is informed of this
fact and may appeal to a Court of Quarter Sessions  (before a  Judge)
and argue his point. 

74.   As a general rule the firearms laws of the United Kingdom are
interpreted much more  stringently than those of the various
Australian States.  The only instance where issue of  a  firearm is
relaxed is ownership of a shotgun.  As mentioned earlier shotguns are
not required to  be registered individually but the owner must be
licensed, this is generally only a matter of  paying the required fee.

Effectiveness of Policing 

75.   It is difficult to gauge in this particular situation whether
or not the strict registration and  licence procedures have
effectively restrained the number of firearm related offences that
have  occurred in the United Kingdom.  The principle of tight gun
control is to stop the flow of guns to  the criminal element.  It was
the intention of the Government in 1973 to introduce individual 
registration of shotguns, however the firearm enthusiasts protested
vigourously and the  legislation halted.  Since that period the
Government has seen fit to increase the price of firearm  registration
and shotgun licensing, in effect the fee has increased 1,600 % in the
last 14 years.  See  Appendix "G".. (29) 

76.   By increasing the prices of firearm registration and the
licensing of shotgun owners in the  manner that they have it would
appear that a large volume of people have either sold off their 
firearms or declined to renew their registrations and licences.  The
total number of firearms in  England and Wales in 1969 was 209,946,.
in 1968 the fees were 5s. upon purchase and 2s.d. upon renewal, it was
mooted that in 1982 the price would be £41 for purchase and £31 for 
renewal.  See Appendix "G"'.  It is this very factor of steep price
rises that has caused firearm  enthusiasts to become militant on the
matter of registration.. 

77.   In 1968 the number of firearms registered in England and Wales
was estimated at  209,946.  At this time the fee to register a gun was
very cheap. The Government of the day  moved to have shotguns made the
subject of registration also. The firearms fraternity in the U.K. 
argued strongly against such a move.  They were successful and the
shotgun issue was dropped,  however as a trade off the Government
increased the price of registration and renewal.  Since  that time the
price of registering a firearm has gone from 5s ($0.50 -Australian)to
£25.00s  ($50.00 - Australian). 

 (29)     Handgunner, September - October, 1982. British publication. 

                              - 19 -

78.   By way of reaction to the price increase in registration it
has now been  determined that in 1982 there are 51,000 less firearm
registrations and the figure is decreasing a  further 4,000 each year.

No enquiry has been held to determine whether or not the owners have 
actually sold their firearms because of the expensive registration
fees or they have just not  bothered to renew then each year.  In
effect in 1982 fees had increased by 130 % and  registrations were
down by 24%. (30) See Appendix "G". 

Renewal of Registration 

79.   In Victoria the registration fee is paid once and that
suffices for as long as the present  owner retains possession of the
firearm, the same system is utilised in all of the other states of 
Australia.  Not so in the United Kingdom, in fact every year the
firearm is subject to registration  renewal and the local police are
responsible for visiting the owner at his home to check that the  same
condition under which the licence or registration was granted still
applies.  This may  include:- 

     (a)  does the holder still own the firearm. 

     (b)  are his storage facilities still adequate. 

     (C)  has he been convicted of any offences in the past year. 

     (d)  are his reasons for possessing the firearm still valid.
          Enquiries will be made with his local gun club to ensure 
          that he is still an active member of the club. 

     (e)  inspection of the amount of ammunition fired by the
          applicant. If little use has been made of the gun he may be 
          invited to sell the weapon or he may have difficulty in  
          having the registration renewed.

                    NEW ZEALAND REGISTRATION 

Firearm Registration 

80.   In 1920 the First World War had just finished with many
servicemen bringing pistols and  automatic firearms back into the
country. They were freely available at stores.  Revolution had 
occurred in Russia and there was fear that large scale industrial
demonstrations could occur in  New Zealand.  Historically the Arms Act
was introduced and registration of all firearms  including shotguns
was introduced in an effort to control the illegal use of firearms. 

(30)       Current Firearms Controls.     op. cit., p. 212. 

                               - 20 -

81.   The police were given the responsibility to handle the
registration and within 2 years  there were over 20,000 firearms on
file.  By 1928 the sheer volume of work in registering all  of the
firearms was proving difficult for the police, at one stage there were
more firearms on  record than there were inhabitants of New Zealand. 
In 1929 a Bill was introduced to  Government to dispense with the
registration of rifles and shotguns, the Bill was defeated.  In 1930 a
compromise was reached and shotguns were dropped from the registration
list.  (31) 

82.   Initially it was argued that firearm registration was
effective in keeping track of firearm  movements and a way in which
criminals could be located.  However the number of firearms on  record
made indexing the system manually, time consuming and often mistakes
were made.   Some-criminals were traced via the use of the firearms
registrations, however the number is  minimal and in 1968 the Police
Department decided to put all of its records onto the National 
computer at Wanganui.  This idea failed when it was found that the
records were so out of date  that it was impracticable. 

83.   To counter this problem it was decided to have every firearm
owner call in to their local  Police station with their firearm so an
inspection could be made and accurate descriptions  could be placed
into the computer.  At this stage there were 350,000 firearm owners
and over  500,000 firearms with no estimate of the number of shotguns.

Those who could not call into the  Police Station would have to be
visited.  Eleven years later in 1979 it was found that some Police 
Districts had still not completed their enquiries. 

Board of Enquiry 

84.    A Government Board of Enquiry was convened and the subject of
the enquiry; of Firearm  Registration reviewed At the completion the
results were made public and recommendations  put to the Government. 
they were:- 

        (a)  a personal check of all firearm owners from 1968-73 could
             not be finished. 

        (b)  as a result of the check the accuracy of the index was in

        (c)  to register rifles and shotguns as well would mean       
             correcting all existing records. 

        (d)  periodic renewal of all records would be necessary. 

        (e)  in light of the fact that the last check took eleven     
             years and was still uncompleted it would place a massive 
             burden on the police that was unjustified.         (32) 

(31) Project Foresight. New Zealand Government Publication, 1985. p. 3

(32) Project Foresight.  op. cit., p. 7. 

                             - 21 -

 85.   Consequently it was decided to abandon registration and
introduce licensing of the  person.  Reasons why this was more
favourable are:- 

       (a)  police costs will be reduced. 

       (b)  very little use of the index and system indicated that it 
            did not assist in tracking down criminals. 

       (c)  police will have immediate access to records on who is    
            licensed to own a firearm. 

       (d)  allow recreational shooters to pursue their sport without 
            undue restrictions. 

       (e)  reduce police time spent on maintaining records.
       (f)  allow police to spend more time in the community.  (33) 

Licensing  Procedures for Firearm Owners 

86.   In 1983 the New Zealand Government passed a new and much
revised Arms Act that  removed many of the anomalies existing in
previous legislation.  Regarded by many as being the  most enlightened
and forward thinking firearms legislation in the Western world this
century the  Arms Act introduced some significant changes.  Foremost
amongst these is the discarding of the  requirement that all firearms
had to be registered with the police.  Whilst the police still play a 
major role in the new Act certain changes have taken place:- 

   (a)  the applicant is required to obtain an-application form from  
        the police station and detail  background information on      
        himself and provide the police with the names of two          
        referees.  Both  these persons will be asked if the applicant 
        is a fit and proper person-to own a firearm. 

   (b)  the police will provide the applicant with a book on firearm  
        safety. The applicant will be  advised to study the book. 

   (c)  the police will inform you of a date to attend the New        
        Zealand Mountain Safety Council  lecture in the area.  At the 
        completion of the lecture which takes 2 hours the applicant   
        will be  asked questions from the lecture and the book he was 
        given earlier.  A written test will also be given.  See       
        Appendixes "H" & Hill. 

   (d)  on successful completion of the exam the New Zealand Mountain 
        Safety Council Officer  will give the applicant a certificate 
        which he can resent at the police Station.  Provided that all 
        the other requirements have been met the police will issue    
        the applicant with a Firearms licence  that is valid for      


 (33) Project Foresight.  op. cit., p.8.                

                             - 22 -

     (e)  the licence allows the holder to possess rifles and         
          shotguns of any calibre and to buy, sell  or do whatever he 
          wishes with firearms.  The minimum age for such a licence   
          is 16 years. (34) 

Tables of  Comparisons 

87.   A table of Legislative Comparison is indicated at Appendix "J".

                     INTERVIEWS AND OPINIONS

Sports Shooting Association 

88.    Members of the Sports Shooting Association of Victoria hold
strong views in relation to  firearms control and firearms
registration.  As part of my research I interviewed the Secretary of 
the organization Mr. Ted Clarke, a man with over 40 years experience
in firearm sport and  administration, the following points were

      (a)  members of the Sports Shooting Association were of the     
           view that the police must play a  vital role in the        
           conduct of the firearms legislation and registration as    
           they have control over  criminal records and it was not in 
           the community interest to see undesireable people licensed 
           to  possess firearms. 

      (b)  almost all members of the organization, the largest in     
           Australia were of the belief that  registration served no  
           purpose other than to serve a means of restricting firearm 
           owners amongst  the population and that it would later     
           serve as form of taxation.  Members of the Victorian       
           Branch were concerned that the left wing elements of the   
           labour party were practising marxist  doctrines in         
           attempting to curb the number of firearms amongst the      

      (c)  most members believe that shooters licences could be       

           issued by a non police organization  with the police       
           retaining a right to veto any person found to be found to  
           be undesireable. 

      (d)  in the past inconsistent view points in relation to        
           firearms control by issuing officers had  fueled a lot of  
           ill feelings between some police members and members of    
           the shooting  fraternity.  It was not unusual apparently   
           for an applicant to be refused a firearm licence in one    
           suburb simply because of the Firearm Inspectors personal   
           view point and dislike of civilians  possessing firearms,  
           a simple change of address to an area where a more liberal 
           Inspector worked  usually reversed the decision. 


(34) The New Zealand Firearm Handbook, 1985 Edition, New Zealand      
     Mountain Safety  Council, Wellington, New Zealand. 

                              - 23 -

  (e)  firearms officers often in the past had imposed limits on the
       number of firearms one  could possess without there being any  
       basis at law for the imposition of such limits.  Applicants    
       were often forced to go to court and pay out money for         
       Solicitors etc. on the personal whim of a  policeman. 

  (f)  almost without exception members of the Association and allied
       shooting clubs were of  the opinion that registration was an   
       invasion of civil liberties and as such was not a viable       
       proposition.  The main basis of this belief was that           
       registration will only reflect the names of the  honest people 
       who are prepared to submit their details to the Registrar and  
       that the criminals,  who are more likely to transgress the     
       firearm laws would not bother.  When all things were to
       be  taken into account it was for this very reason that        
       registration was introduced. 

  (g)  in the United Kingdom firearms registration fees were now at
       exorbitant prices and the  members here could see that in time 
       the Government may see fit to bring our own fees into line     
       with those in the United Kingdom.  It was also likely that an  
       annual fee for registration could be  imposed as has been done 
       in the U.K. 

Government Statute Draughtsman

89.    In an effort to obtain different view points I also
interviewed the Victorian State  Government Statute Draughtsman Mr.
Robert Emmersly.  During the interview we discussed  several aspects
of the initial legislation of which Emmersly had draughted, some of
these points  are:-

  (a)  The objectives of the Firearms Act. 

        (i) protect the public from injury. 

       (ii) prevent damage to property from the misuse of firearms and

      (iii) to minimise the effects of misuse of firearms. 

  (b) In reply to a question asking the effectiveness of registration 
      to date, Emmersly replied, "I've yet  to see a study that adopts
      the fact that registration is effective".  In relation to our   
      own  registration policy an accurate conclusion could not       
      be-reached as the initial period will not be  completed until   
      January 1987. 

                             - 24 -

   (c)  On the issue of Police control of firearms legislation and
        registration Emmersly was of  the belief that whilst firearms
        registration was actually carried out by civilians the        
        administration of the Registry and the legislation was best   
        carried out by police. He could not  see any alternatives that
        could be considered viable and was of the opinion that as     
        police controlled the criminal records and that nine out of   
        every ten firearms licence cancellations  arose from police   
        observation or police initiated court action they were in fact
        the obvious choice. 

   (d)  The financial burden of firearms registration has been capably
        met by the recent increase  in the cost of shooters licences. 
        Initially to cover the cost of computerisation printing etc.  
        and other costs the estimate of one million dollars to set up 
        registration was made.  This was based  on the estimate of one
        million firearms being present in Victoria.  The ongoing costs
        of  registration were worked out at $8.30 per shooters licence
        per year.  As can be seen at this stage  the cost of issuing  
        shooters licences and registration is cost effective in terms 
        of dollars and  cents. 

   (e)  In terms of cost effectiveness, objective wise it is too early
        to determine whether or not  registration is working in       
        Victoria. Although the Legislative Committee initially        
        envisaged over  one million firearms would be registered      
        during the four year registration period, at best there  can  
        only be 520,000 firearms registered by February 1987 if the   
        current trends continue. 

   (f)  In reply to a question of the likelyhood of a price rise of
        firearms registration Emmersly  was of the belief that this   
        was most unlikely unless the Government saw it as an avenue of
        creating indirect taxation. 


Areas reviewed 

90.  In this paper I have confined my research to the laws relating to
firearm registration within  Australia and two overseas countries,
Great Britain and New Zealand.  I chose Great Britain  and New Zealand
as they have similar lifestyles and political ideologies as Australia.
I have also  briefly covered the history of firearms registration in
Victoria and New Zealand and researched  the matter of the issue of
shooters licences in all Australian States, the United Kingdom-and 
New Zealand. 

                              - 25 -

91.     When dealing with these two topics I also reviewed matters
arising from them, namely  the role that police play in the issuing of
shooters licences, the administration of firearms  registration and
legislation and in their absence could a civillian organization take
their place or  in view of the number of firearms in the community can
it be successfully done at all. 

Number of Firearms in Victoria 

92.    In order to establish whether or not registration of firearms
can adequately be undertaken  it is necessary to determine how many
firearms there are in the state.  To do this a monitoring  system can
be set up to gauge the degree of effectiveness of registration.  The
following  authorities have made estimates based on their own

    (a)  Robert Brewer, Secretary of Firearm Traders Association,
         estimates one million firearm  and several hundred thousand  
         airguns etc.  This estimate is derived from facts within his 
         own  knowledge and the monthly customs importation sheets. 

    (b)  Chief Inspector Brian Fennessy, the Registrar of Firearms for
         the State of Victoria  estimates that for every licensed     
         shooter there are 2.8 firearms within the state.  It  is     
         estimated that the 260,000 licensed shooters own             
         approximately 728,000 firearms.  At this  stage there are    
         460,000 firearms registered in the state with an estimate
         that by the end of the  first 4 year registration period in  
         February 1987, there will be approximately 520,000 firearms  

    (c)  Robert Emmersly, State Government Statute Draughtsman        
         responsible for the legislation  in relation to firearms     
         registration estimates one million firearms in the state.

    (d)  Mr. Ted Clarke, Secretary of the Shooting Sports Council of  
         Victoria estimates around  800,000 from facts within his own 
         knowledge and adds that with the inclusion of airguns and air
         rifles onto the definition of firearms there could well be in
         excess of one million. 

93.    It would appear that an estimate of the number of guns within
the community cannot be  made with any great degree of accuracy.  As a
result of my own investigations and research I  believe the figure of
one million firearms to be a fair assessment.  Even allowing for an
error  factor of 20% which would reduce my estimate to a minimum of
800,000 firearms it is evident  that many people are either not
registering their firearms or are only registering some of their 

94.    Although the initial 4 years allowing for firearm registration
in Victoria has not yet been  completed the number of firearms
estimated on current trends indicates a maximum of 520,000.   This
figure is well short of the discounted estimate of 800,000.  Using
those figures it appears  that in February 1987 there will be 280,000.
unaccounted for firearms within the State. 

                               - 26 -

Registration of Firearms, "Is it a Police Responsibility?" 

95.    If we are to accept that Registration is here to stay and will
become an integral part of  our firearms control legislation then the
question of who is to be the organization responsible for  the control
of registration must be considered. 


96.    Presently the Victoria Police have a Registrar and Deputy
Registrar of Firearms with a  staff of 60 public servants who are
engaged in the actual physical task of firearm registration. 

Police Role 

97.    The police role in carrying out the registration is minimal,
the role of the Registrar and  his Deputy is that of a legally
appointed guardian acting on behalf of the Government to ensure  that
the provisions of registration as set down by the Firearms Act is
complied  with.  The police  also have the legal authority to be able
to prosecute for any breach of the Firearms Law. 

98.    A comparison to other states in Australia regarding firearm
control legislation indicates  that the police as a rule are preferred
to be the responsible body for firearms control. 

Can the task of Registration be effectively carried out 

99.    The research carried out in relation to the viability of
firearm registration strongly  indicates that the exercise is costly,
inaccurate and ineffective.  This is borne out by the fact that  it
has been abandoned in such places as New Zealand and in very recent
times about to be  abandoned in South Australia.  One of foremost
authorities on British Firearms Legislation  the former Chief
Inspector Colin Greenwood had this to say in relation to

     "Careful examination of the evidence available suggests therefore
     Legislation has failed to bring  under control substantial       
     numbers of firearms and that it certainly cannot be claimed that 
     strict  controls have reduced the number of firearms in crime.   
     On the basis of these facts it might be  argued that firearms    
     registration has little effect and don't justify the amount      
     of-police time  involved. (35) 


 (35) Firearms Control.   op-. cit., p. 245. 

                               - 27 -

100.   Although firearms registration in most Australian States
is a fairly recent innovation it  would appear that already some
states are preparing to repeal legislation.  Registration has only 
been in operation in South Australia for 5 years but a recent (April
1986) investigation into the  viability of the scheme had this to

      "If the objective of registration of firearm is to determine    
      their numbers, who uses them and  where they are (even if there 
      is another objective which has reasonable substance to it) the  
      apparent inaccuracy of the existing system of registration and  
      its cost indicate that the objective  cannot be achieved. (36) 

Registration & Administration, Police Role? 

101.   Research indicates with the exception of the Australian
Capitol Territory the police are  the body responsible for the
registering of firearms and the licensing of person to own or use 
those firearms in every state and territory of Australia.  It would
appear that, there is little or no  form of protest by members of the
shooting fraternities or the public with the present system. 

102.   This has not always been so, in the past in Victoria the
issue of shooters licences by the  police created ill feeling between
some of the shooting clubs and certain police members.  This  was
bought about by the attitudes of some inspectors towards licensing
people to possess high  powered rifles and what are now classed as
category C weapons.  The advent of the Firearms  Consultative
Committee and a more uniform and liberal approach towards the granting
of  licences has eased what previously had been an unpleasant

103.   The noteable acceptions to police being responsible for
licensing and registration is the  Australian Capitol Territory and
New Zealand.  In both cases external bodies are responsible for  the
licensing of applicants whilst the police maintain their traditional
role of checking the  character of the applicant.  New Zealand
authorities take the matter further and then they remove  the need to
register firearms at all. 

104.   This system of civillian responsibility for firearms
control appears to operate effectively  on the surface.  However a
close look behind the scenes indicates that police still have the 
overall responsibility for actual firearms control and the right to
veto any person thought to be  unfit to possess a firearm. 


 (36)        Shooters Journal, April 1986. p. 3. 

                              - 28 -


105.   There is little doubt that the police are in the best
position to be used in the  administration of the Firearms Act and the
registration of firearms.  By their constant  involvement with the
public and the community they are able to monitor firearms, abuse and 
community trends in relation to the use of firearms.  They are also in
a position to be able to give  feed back to the Firearms Registrar and
the Firearms Consultative Committee if required. 

106.   In recent times members of the shooting fraternities have
put forward the motion that  they should have the role of looking
after their own industry, certainly members of the Victorian  Shooters
Association and the Victorian Firearms Traders have supported this
motion.  To add  impetus to their argument they cite the current set
up in New Zealand whereby the police  maintain a background role and
allow the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council to conduct the  issue of

Lack of Firearms Safety Tests in Victoria 

107.   Research into the subject of firearms control and
registration brings to the forefront the  lack of firearm safety tests
in Victoria.  Whilst other states of Australia and New Zealand 
conduct safety tests on applicants for shooters licences we in
Victoria seem to shy away from it  in favour of what appears to be a
pointless exercise in the registration of firearms. 


Proposed Amendments

108.   On research into the viability of firearms registration
and the licensing-of people to use  firearms I find that there are
several areas requiring attention.  My recommendations are as 

     (a)  The initial period of 4 years in which firearm registration 
          was to be phased in is not yet  expired.  The               
          ineffectiveness of the actual registration is already       
          proving its counter  productiveness. I therefore recommend  
          that firearm registration be abandoned forthwith as there   
          are hundreds of thousands of  firearms that will not be

     (b)  In the event of my recommendation to abandon registration   
          not being accepted I believe  that the present              
          administrative arrangement of two senior police officials   
          maintaining control and  supervising a large pool of public 
          service staff be continued in its present form. 

                               - 29 -

      (c) I also believe firearms safety testing in the form of
          written tests should be implemented in Victoria as soon as
          possible. The New Zealand system could be used as a model.

      (d) The present staff involved in firearm registration or part
          thereof is more than capable of administering firearms
          safety testing in a similar manner to that which is
          performed,--- in New Zealand.  Police would retain their
          right to veto any person found to be unsuitable.

      (e) That the police remain the administrators of the Firearms
          Act in matters of policy and control but that where possible
          public servants perform clerical roles.

      (f) I do not see any direct benefit to be obtained by allowing
          external agencies such as the Victoria Shooters Council to
          be the Governing body on matters pertaining to firearms
          control because of their vested interests.

Political Motives

109.   The main purpose of this paper has been to examine the
viability of firearms registration and the control of the licensing of
people to use and possess firearms.  I have read many articles on the
matters and interviewed several people from both sides of the fence. 
Without meaning to pre-empt some of the areas under examination I find
conclusively that firearms registration is an exercise in futility. I
believe that the present registration system is a Political tool that
was implemented in order to fulfill an election promise.


110.  With the high rate of accidents that occur with firearms mainly
as a result of ignorance on behalf of the owner or user I believe that
it is paramount that a system of public awareness or education be
given to firearm owners and that there can be no better time than
right at the start before a person is elegible to possess a firearm. 
I do not believe that tighter firearms control will reduce the number
of firearm accidents but that a better educated user will.

Police Control

111.  There can be no doubt that the control of firearms should belong
to a disciplined organization with Government affiliations.  The
police are in the best position to monitor activities within the
community and on that basis are the people best suited to control and
administer the Act.

                               - 30 -