Valley's staggering gun ownership statistics revealed

A CLARENCE Valley gun owner has amassed one of the state's largest private arsenals, with 91 firearms registered in his name.

A freedom of information request by the New South Wales Greens has revealed the 2460 postcode is home to 7930 registered guns, spread across the collections of 2043 owners.

The area's biggest private gun cache is also one of the 100 largest in the state.

Greens MP David Shoebridge sparked an online debate when he suggested on Facebook that allowing people to accumulate such vast weapons hoards was a public threat - especially if the cache was stolen.

"The Greens accept that there are people in the community who have a genuine reason to own a gun," he said.

"Farmers on rural properties often require firearms for euthanising injured stock or controlling wild invasive animals.

"But it is impossible to see how any one individual can establish a 'genuine' or 'good reason' to have dozens or even hundreds of guns."

The party has set up a website listing gun ownership levels by postcode.

Yamba (2464) had 138 legal gun owners with 462 firearms, while Maclean (2463) was home to 1564 guns in 435 separate collections.

There were 268 registered firearms in Iluka (2466), with the postcode's largest private stockpile numbering 26 guns.

The data excluded weapons owned by firearms dealers and collectors.

There were 850,634 registered guns in NSW as of December last year - up from 619,000 in 2001.

Mr Shoebridge said a legal loophole in Australia's laws allowed gun owners to "endlessly recycle" the same reason used to acquire their first firearm when obtaining dozens more.

The Greens have called for reforms that would force gun owners to provide a separate and extraordinary reason for owning each weapon once they had five to their name.

Firearms Owners Association of Australia president Ron Owen said shooters were already unfairly targeted and mired in red tape.

"All this does is put restrictions on good people and waste time, money and resources on controlling them," he said.

"If you have over 30 firearms, you have to jump through all the hoops - you have to have increased security.

"The idea of gun registration is just insane.

"In fact, you would be much safer without registration or ever telling the police where they are.

"We've had incidents in different states, especially Victoria, where police have actually been selling lists of licensed shooters.

"The whole thing is a leaky boat."

Former prime minister John Howard, who introduced gun control laws in the wake of the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, last week said restrictions should be made even tighter.

"No, the laws are not adequate," he told SBS's Insight program.

"I would have thought that everybody would agree if 15-year-olds can get hold of weapons like that, there is something wrong with the laws.

"I am wholly against any watering down of any existing laws.

"And I would encourage sensible strengthening of any existing laws to reduce access to firearms."

Check gun numbers for your postcode at www.toomanyguns.org. - ARM NEWSDESK

IN THE FIRING LINE

GRAFTON (2460)

  • 7930 firearms
  • 2043 owners
  • 91 guns held by one owner
  • 3.88 firearms per owner

YAMBA (2464)

  • 462 firearms
  • 138 owners
  • 18 guns held by one owner
  • 3.35 firearms per owner

MACLEAN (2463)

  • 1564 firearms
  • 435 owners
  • 30 guns held by one owner
  • 3.6 firearms per owner

ILUKA (2466)

  • 268 firearms
  • 63 owners
  • 26 guns held by one owner
  • 4.25 firearms per owner


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