Port Arthur warning: Top cop’s gun loophole worry
The boss of NSW Police's elite State Crime Command has sounded the alarm over criminals buying illegal firearms from licensed dealers, imploring that John Howard's legacy of decisive action on gun control must not be forgotten.
Assistant Commissioner Stuart Smith said the former prime minister seized the moment to ban military-style weapons after the Port Arthur massacre.
But he said crooks had now found new ways to circumvent the system, buying guns and gun parts illicitly to assemble deadly modified weapons.
"People forget over a period of time that, hang on, we had this dreadful massacre - we've got matters running through at the moment where there have been multiple murders committed by individuals using firearms that were provided by licensed dealers," he told The Daily Telegraph.
"The community needs to understand and continue with Howard's legacy, we need appropriate legislation to deal with making the firearms illegal when they're modified and third, we need sufficient law enforcement to deter the behaviour."
Commander Smith's warning comes after the NSW Government introduced a bill to parliament earlier this year to crackdown on illegal gun manufacturing, including targeting those who supply firearm parts. The bill is yet to pass parliament and has been met with some opposition by the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, which has previously posted a critique of the legislation on its website.
NSW Police recently made three key arrests in the alleged illegal gun trade, including bringing down Wollongong firearms dealer Shane Simpson, who was last week jailed for 13 years for illegally supplying 276 guns.
Officers have also arrested registered Nyngan firearms dealer Ray Burt, who allegedly kept an "Aladdin's cave" of 700 guns in the basement of an old pub, and Bruce Bull, a big game safari shooter from Queensland who allegedly sold firearm parts illegally at a gun show in Bathurst.
Police from NSW and Queensland last month arrested registered gun dealer Bull, 65, at his gun shop and shooting range near Gympie.
Originally published as Port Arthur warning: Top cop's gun loophole worry