Cost of Illegal Firearms in Australia Has Skyrocketed Criminals Now Do Gun-Sharing

By @ibtimesau on
Firearms and ammunition are displayed after a police raid inside Nueva Esperanza prison, in Colon City September 30, 2014. Panama's national police raided one of the most dangerous prisons in Panama seizing illegal weapons, knives, firearms, a grenad
Firearms and ammunition are displayed after a police raid inside Nueva Esperanza prison, in Colon City September 30, 2014. Panama's national police raided one of the most dangerous prisons in Panama seizing illegal weapons, knives, firearms, a grenade, drugs, mobile phones and laptops during the operation on Monday. The raid was ordered after an incident last week when inmates opened fire inside the prison, according to local media. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

Criminals in Australia apparently are also feeling the cost of times. A Senate inquiry into illicit guns heard last Monday that criminals now share guns and ammunitions because buying their own has gone impractical.

Prices of semi-automatic handguns, so-called weapons of choice of underworld characters, from a previous price tag of $2,000 to $4,000 have gone up to over $15,000 in the past two years.

Jason Herbert, NSW Police firearms and organised crime squad's acting Detective Superintendent, told the Senate inquiry criminals nowadays resort to "loaning out" their weapons to other comrades, usually "throughout groups." So instead of buying a brand new, criminals seek other criminals to try to loan their weapons. "If you use it, you pay for it, if you don't use it, you return."

The same Senate inquiry revealed there are about 260,000 shotguns and handguns on the "grey" or black markets as of 2012, so described because either their owners did not register them when the stricter 1996 National Firearms Agreement gun laws became enforced or people had bought them illegally. Also included in this description are those imported illegally, manufactured illegally or transferred illegally, such as through theft.

Registered guns in Australia as of 2012 were recorded at 2.75 million, held by 730,000 licence holders, according to the Australian Crime Commission (ACC). Guns are considered clean if they haven't been used in carrying out a crime and can be sold for more than $15,000 per piece. Those than have been used for illegal activities are priced lower.

But the ACC said the figures on illegal guns may be significantly higher than 260,000 as it admitted it is difficult to monitor them because of the nature of gun trafficking. "Obviously illegal importations are still happening; it's just simply at the moment they aren't being detected. Whether people are becoming more sophisticated in their methods we don't know," State Crime Command director Detective Chief Superintendent Ken Finch told the Senate inquiry.

The inquiry also heard about the rising knowledge on 3D-printed guns. However, there was little known data about it nor its' numbers in Australia.