A damning audit of Queensland’s firearm regulations has uncovered a raft of flaws, including police granting gun licences to people with a history of offending behaviour.
- The report found the community is “not as well protected as it could be”
- Registered firearms have increased by 17 per cent in the last five years
- Licences are being granted to people who “may be a risk to public safety”, the audit found
The Auditor-General’s report, tabled in State Parliament today, found “the community is not as well protected as it could be” by the Queensland Police Service’s (QPS) Weapons Licensing Unit.
The number of registered firearms in Queensland has increased by 17 per cent since December 2015.
The report found more than 78 per cent of licences issued between 2015 and 2019 had never been inspected by police.
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“Consequently, the QPS can provide little assurance that firearms are not in the possession of people it considers unsuitable,” the report said.
Although the QPS did not issue firearms to anyone with a relevant conviction in the past five years, the audit uncovered examples of licences being granted to people “that may be a risk to public safety”.
“We found 20 people with a history of offending behaviour, but no convictions, who were granted a firearm licence and then went on to commit offences, including weapons offences, drug offences, and domestic violence,” the report said.
The report made 13 recommendations, including reviewing the legal criteria for who can access a firearm, to better protect public safety.
It also proposed changes to improve real-time data access, compliance monitoring and tracking the movement of firearms.
Over the past five years, more than 3,200 firearms were reported stolen, 633 were lost, and 780 were recovered.
The audit found police failed to recover weapons from people who had died, were slow to remove firearms from unsuitable owners, and allowed them to retain access to firearms through family or friends.
The report also said the QPS was not proactive or effective in regulating firearm dealers.
Deputy Commissioner Tracy Linford said she accepted all the recommendations and a steering committee would work to overhaul the system by the end of 2023.
“We had already acknowledged that we had a lot of issues we could do to modernise firearms regulation here at the Queensland Police Service,” Deputy Commissioner Linford said.
“The most important part for us is the community safety issue and making sure that any person that either applies for a firearm and a licence, or anyone that’s already got one, that they are a fit and proper person to have one.”