Black market fears for WA’s illegal guns

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ABOUT 1000 firearms are stolen in WA each year and police admit few are recovered.

Last month 130 handguns were stolen from a Beckenham weapons’ dealer and there has been no sign of them since.

While police say it is hard to gauge the scale of WA’s black-market weapons’ trade or where most of the guns are coming from, they are concerned how often they find illegal guns in the hands of drug dealers or other criminals.

Police documents obtained under freedom of information show authorities seized almost 2500 guns in WA in 2015, after more than 2250 were seized in 2014.

“It is a large number and it’s a number that obviously concerns us,” State Crime Assistant Commissioner Michelle Fyfe said.

“One gun stolen is too many, one gun in the hands of criminal is too many.”

Rifles were the most common firearm seized in 2014 and 2015 — almost 2500 — followed by 885 shotguns, 763 handguns and even eight machineguns.

Not all were taken off criminals. Some were confiscated from deceased estates or because the licence had expired.

But the Australian Crime Commission estimates there are 26,000 illicit guns in WA.

Former police superintendent Dave Parkinson claimed stealing guns was “money in the bank” for criminals.

“We’ve got groups, and we know who they are here in WA, who will do anything to get hold of them,” he said. Bikie gangs and others target homes where they know there are firearms.

Police figures show 1053 licensed firearms were reported stolen in 2015, while 944 were taken the previous year, many from rural and remote areas.

Authorities suspect weapons stolen in WA are often shipped interstate or overseas, while other illicit weapons are smuggled into the State.



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