NSW pledges gun crime crackdown

New South Wales is to introduce sweeping new powers for police to crack down on people banned from using a firearm, basing the new legislation on South Australian laws.

Sydney's seen hundreds of shootings in recent years, and the premier says criminals continue to flout the law and that's why it has to change.

'We can't continue to allow targeted gun crime to occur', Barry O'Farrell told the media on Sunday.

'Because every time there's a targeted shooting the chance of an innocent bystander getting hurt increases.'

The state government wants police to have stronger powers to search for firearms without a warrant. Currently the Police Comissioner is the only one with the power to ban someone from possessing a firearm.

The state government wants all officers above the rank of inspector to have the same authority, while also limiting the ability to challenge their decision.

The Opposition says the government's been playing politics with crime, and could have acted sooner.

Streets in Western and South Western Sydney had been 'looking like shooting galleries rather than somewhere to raise a family', NSW Labor Leader John Robertson said.


Gun control advocate Sam Lee, from Gun Control Australia, says both sides of politics need to change tact.

'What the focus needs to be on is trying to reduce supply of firearms to the illegal market which is something both the Coalition and Labor have not focused on.'
Opponents say the government's planned laws will only affect about 60 people currently placed under a firearms ban.

But Sam Lee is concerned about abuse of the new powers.

'(We) have to be very careful about the laws to do with warrants because once that's done for one part of the community it may extend to others.'

Police Minister Michael Gallacher says such concerns miss the mark.

'These criminals who use guns on our streets have no respect no respect for the rights of the community therefore these criminals should not complain when they're about to lose some of their rights.'

The legislation will be introduced into the NSW Parliament this week.

Source: SBS Staff