Canberra: As many as 600,000 firearms have made their way into Australia illegally, according to an official report on Friday.
Chief executive of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), Chris Dawson said the country was in the midst of a surge in the number of illegal guns circulating Australia streets, and blamed outlaw bike gangs and organised crime groups for the rise in the numbers, Xinhua news agency reported.
“It is a common feature when police are searching ‘bikies’ or Middle Eastern crime groups that weapons are found,” Dawson said.
ACIC’s 2016 report on guns suggested there were around a quarter of a million illegal firearms on Australian streets, but Dawson said that was a conservative estimate and under UN calculation, the figure was more likely to be upwards of 600,000.
ACIC said there was a need for further consultation and cooperation between the state governments to close a number of loopholes which make it easy for criminals to steal, de-register and import deactivated handguns.
It also suggested lawmakers impose an amnesty program so that grey and black market guns can be handed over to authorities.
“Grey market firearms are targeted by criminals because they are difficult for law enforcement to trace to the last known legal owner,” the report said.
“A national program encouraging the registration and/or surrender of unregistered firearms could significantly reduce the number of firearms available to the illicit market.”
The report comes amidst heated discussion in Parliament regarding the controversial ban on a rapid-fire Adler shotgun, while earlier this year, Australia’s second largest city Melbourne was labelled the crime capital of the country.