Australia: More Guns Now Than Before Port Arthur


New research from the Australia Institute finds that there are more guns in Australia now than there were before the Port Arthur massacre and introduction of strict gun controls.

The Australia Institute report, commissioned by Gun Control Australia, comes off the back of research which finds the gun lobby in Australia is as large, per capita, as the NRA in the US. The new report also finds that the number of guns per gun-owner in Australia has increased dramatically, despite a drop in the number of people engaged in sport shooting overall.

Key findings

  • The number of guns per gun-owner in Australia has increased dramatically, from 2.1 guns per gun owner in 1997 to 3.9 guns per owner at present
  • Alarmingly, the number of firearms reported in Australia in 2017 (3.6 million) is now higher than pre-Port Arthur levels, prior to the 1996 National Firearms Agreement (3.2 million firearms)
  • The increase in gun numbers is despite a drop in number of people engaged in sport shooting overall
  • Using a rough measure of a gun selling for $1,000, the gun lobby has sold an additional $1.45 billion worth of guns because of the cultural change since 1997 of keeping more guns

“Australians would be surprised to learn that Australia has more guns now than even before the Port Arthur massacre and the introduction of strict gun controls,” said Bill Browne, researcher at the Australia Institute.

“While the number of hunters, sporting shooters and licensed gun owners has fallen over the last 20 years, the number of firearms has increased. In short, our research finds fewer gun owners are buying more guns.”

“The watering down of gun laws across the country has meant there are now more guns per licence holder even though there are fewer gun owners,” said Sam Lee, President of Gun Control Australia.

“Placing a limit on the number of guns per licence holder will prevent individuals from accumulating large caches of firearms and storing these guns in the home. It will also prevent gun manufacturers from utilising legislative loopholes that allows for the sale of more guns.”

Related research

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