WA Police has initiated Operation Bluesun to tackle the ongoing issue of illicit firearms across the state.
As part of Bluesun, selected firearms license holders and gun owners were contacted by police to arrange a time for inspection and provided with general information on the standard of security required.
Further, officers also delivered infringements to people who had allowed their firearms license to lapse.
Officers conducted inspections of firearms storage linked to these people.
Officers also carried out investigations into stolen firearms.
The operation took place in November and resulted in:
- 2710 addresses attended resulting in 2493 firearm cabinet inspections
- 398 firearms, including 28 handguns, and 33,427 rounds of ammunition seized
- 185 owners charged over non-compliance offences
- 41 firearms relinquished
- 26 firearms reported lost or stolen
- 72 owners charged with 320 other offences
Bluesun was a multi-phased effort to remove illicit firearms from the community while also promoting the secure storage of licensed firearms.
“Bluesun confirmed our belief that the overwhelming majority of licensed firearm owners do the right thing when it comes to safe storage of their weapons,” Regional WA Commander Jo McCabe said.
“Despite our public awareness campaign and our efforts to educate licensed firearm holders a small number of people still declined to correctly store their weapons.
“Those people have been charged but the consequence could have been far worse if their firearm fell into the wrong hands as a result of their poor security practices.”
Commander McCabe said WA Police Force would continue to work with licensed firearm holders to improve firearm safety and security in the community.
An Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission report estimated there are 260,000 firearms on the national illicit market.
From January 2016 to July 2018, a total of 1317 firearms were reported stolen in WA – including 130 firearms stolen during a burglary at a Beckenham business.
Commander McCabe said further analysis of incidents between July and October revealed a high percentage of firearm thefts involved a breach of compliance on the part of the owner.
The analysis showed:
- Since July 2018, there have been 52 firearm theft incidents during which 11 handguns and 128 rifles were stolen;
- 49 of these incidents occurred at residential premises;
- 33 of these incidents involved a compliance breach, for example, failing to secure a firearm;
- Ten people were charged as a result of these inquiries
As of late October there were more than 85,000 firearms license holders owning more than 328,000 firearms in WA.
Members of the public can assist these inquiries by contacting Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or via crimestopperswa.com.au.