Australia’s gun laws are being eroded, new report says

The Alannah & Madeline Foundation has grave concerns about the constant efforts to water down our National Firearms Agreement 2017 (NFA), concurring with a new report which reveals that, after two decades of political pressure, Australia’s gun laws are in decline.

The report*, prepared by Philip Alpers, Adjunct Associate Professor, Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, and released by Gun Control Australia, found that not one Australian state or territory complies with the NFA.

In its detailed analysis of state and territory legislation to determine the level of compliance with the 1996 NFA, the report also found that the erosion of our gun laws has accelerated since the last report was prepared in 2006.

The states where the laws have been most diluted are New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.

“When one jurisdiction erodes its laws, the other states tend to follow which significantly weaken the national framework,” the report says.

Major erosions to state laws include:

  • Diluting regulations around ownership and possession of high powered firearms;
  • Allowing minors to possess and use firearms, even without a permit, despite the NFA requiring all firearms licence holders to be at least 18 years old;
  • Allowing unlimited possession of ammunition
  • And allowing the use of high-powered semi-automatic firearms during six-month probationary period.

The Alannah & Madeline Foundation is 100 per cent committed to reducing violence toward children. We strongly support the proposed three-month extension to the gun amnesty to help remove illicit and unwanted firearms from our community.

Many more guns on the street: we are now ranked as one of the world’s major gun importers


Every year, just under 10 children are killed by guns in this country. However, four were accidently shot in the last few weeks, with two being killed.

Are these accidents a direct result of the relaxation of some of our gun laws? It’s being reported that Australia is now ranked as one of the world's major gun importers, coming sixth in the United Nations-sponsored annual global Small Arms Survey, high enough to see it categorised in the top tier of gun importers.

Australia was also revealed to be the 13th-largest exporter in the world and ranked 25th in the transparency of its arms trade, scoring 12 out of a possible 25 in the survey's transparency barometers.

Even so, Australia is still a safe place to live and we place great importance on keeping children safe from the harm of firearms, due to our strong gun laws.

Safety must always be the most important issue when considering firearm regulation

We know that most gun owners are responsible and properly keep their weapons under lock and key.  Gun owners would agree that no child in Australia should be at risk through the careless use or storage of firearms. 

The responsibility to store, transport and secure firearms is a key requirement to keeping families safe.  Safety must always be the most important issue when considering firearm regulation.

This is why we are puzzled and concerned that the NSW government appears to have made changes in the Firearms and Weapons Legislation Bill 2017 to give police the option not to seize weapons or firearms that are improperly stored and to issue penalty notices.

In our view, it is critical that there are significant consequences for any firearms owner who fails to properly meet community expectations of proper safety and security of weapons. Our children’s lives depend on firearms owners exercising the highest level of care. As well as safety, storage is important because it helps prevent guns being stolen.

When people do not abide by our gun laws, and when our governments don’t fully enforce the agreed standards, our communities pay the consequences. The deaths of children, the deaths of their mothers - these deaths reverberate. These deaths create huge trauma.

Gun ownership is a privilege

The 2017 National Firearms Agreement affirms gun ownership is a privilege that is conditional on the overriding need to ensure public safety. Public safety is improved by the safe and responsible possession, use, registration, storage and transfer of firearms.

In times of great division across the world, Australia should be proud to be a world class leader in a policy that places the safety of our citizens at its heart.

Our gun laws keep our country and our children safer. Let’s keep them that way.

* Firearm Legislation in Australia 21 years after the National Firearms Agreement

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