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Firearm Theft back on the Radar – Part 1

Firearm Theft back on the Radar – Part 1

You’re 5 times more likely to die in a car accident; 4 times more likely to be bashed or stabbed and more likely to drown at the beach in Australia than be shot.  Yet, in Australia, car accidents, drownings and stabbings are never met with the same media hysteria than when a firearm is stolen, and the conversation always centers around how the firearm owners are at fault.

 

But illumination of the truth is rarely successful.  Whatever someone is told first will stick and confirmation bias takes over – the ignorant and the naive stick to their ‘guns’, regardless of the original source, and will resist any change to their established belief.  Some people argue quantity – “there’s a lot more cars than guns” (20 times the number of cars, but the rate of car theft still doubles that of firearms and cars are responsible for 5 times the fatalities).  “But everyone needs a car – people don’t need guns” (Public transport means cars not being used for work are a luxury or for recreational use, like guns are).  Or the figures are so overwhelmingly different from what information has been fed to us over the last couple of decades that they simply refuse to acknowledge the facts could be true.  All because they have been told a lie first.

 

With firearm thefts back in the news, some people will think there is a spate, trend or connection between the thefts, when it’s probably just chance on the thief’s part.  Hundreds of residential thefts would have occurred over the last week and, by chance, some of the houses that were broken into had firearm safes.

 

If we look at the uses of unlicensed firearms we get a good picture of where the demand is.  The protection of illicit investments, such as drugs; The control and dominance over a geographical area; Threatening the public into relinquishing their money or goods (in the form of both ‘protection’ money and theft); The murder of rivals and the status symbol that comes with having an unlicensed firearm.  Criminals don’t spend money on unlicensed firearms to keep them at home and admire them – Criminals invest in unlicensed firearms to exert power and make money.

 

If every firearm were taken from criminals tomorrow, would it end the lucrative business of illicit drugs?  Would it prevent gang wars over geographic areas?  Would it be the end to petrol station hold ups or petty theft?  No, it wouldn’t.

 

But if we instead focused on getting rid of the illicit drugs and drug dealers, there would be no illicit drugs that need protecting.  If there is no illicit drug market, there’s no need to steal to support a drug addiction.  Rival gangs would no longer be killing each other over the ability to sell drugs in a particular area (though they would probably find something else to kill each other over).   If we focus on the demand for unlicensed firearms rather than the unlicensed firearms themselves Western Australia would be far better off.  When you add into the mix the social and financial benefits to eliminating the illicit drug market, it seems rather obvious.

 

We’re never going to get rid of illicit drugs, just the same as we will never get rid of illicit guns, but the point of this article is the toxic rhetoric directed toward the legal firearm ownership in Australia – language that isn’t directed toward car owners when discussing stolen cars, Kitchen Warehouse when a stabbing occurs or the pharmaceutical industry when there is an Ice overdose.  When firearms are stolen it’s legal, licensed firearm owners who are targeted – not the criminals fueling the market for unlicensed firearms.

 

A good example of this is the recent raid on a workshop in Belmont – you can read more about it at the following link;

https://thewest.com.au/news/crime/man-charged-after-guns-ammunition-found-in-belmont-workshop-ng-b881006788z

 

Good work to the guys who caught this guy allegedly constructing illegal, unlicensed and prohibited firearms, but very little of the article is dedicated to the drugs found, the quantity of drugs and whether the person arrested had connections to organized crime.  Grandstanding with the guns and arresting one person isn’t going to solve the larger issues.

 

And yet, this week, operation Bluesun was put into effect – licensed firearm owners are systematically being checked by Police to ensure they are meeting their storage requirements.  The only proactive part of the Police strategy is to pester licensed firearm owners – unlicensed firearms will have to fall into their laps.  (It’s worth mentioning Border Force intercepted packages and tipped off Police about the guy in Belmont as well)

 

If you’d like to watch the Channel 7 news article on the firearm thefts, including the interview with myself, you can see it on the Channel 7 Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/7NewsPerth/

 

All figures were taken from reputable websites;

https://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms

https://aic.gov.au/

 

Zaine Beaton

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