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Registered Firearm Numbers Pass Million Mark In One Aussie State

It was a mass shooting that stunned the country.

The shocking events of the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 quickly became a trigger for gun reform in Australia, with the then Prime Minister John Howard implementing widespread reforms.

A timber cross memorial to the victims killed in the 1996 Port Arthur massacre. Image: AAP Image/Robyn Grace

But 23 years later the number of legal guns is back to where it was before, according to new figures from advocacy group Gun Control Australia.

The group says the increase is making communities more dangerous.

"Since 2015 over 10,000 firearms have been stolen from across Australia and those guns have mainly been stolen from residential, licensed gun owners,” GCA president Samantha Lee told 10 News First.

Image; Getty Images

The data gathered through freedom of information records from the NSW Firearms Registry shows the state now has a staggering 1,007,786 registered firearms.

The most recent figures from gunpolicy.org,  a firearm policy database hosted by the University Of Sydney's School of Public Health, show numbers are rising across the nation too.

  • Queensland: 844,129
  • Victoria:  832,154
  • South Australia: 298,851
  • Western Australia: 294,301

According to the GCA report, there are 100 individuals in NSW, who are not collectors or dealers, who own private arsenals of more than 70 firearms.

One of those individuals from Eastgardens in Sydney's east has 305 firearms.

Another, in Sydney's lower north shore suburb of Mosman has 285, while a third in North Sydney has 268.

The report claims the suburbs of Riverstone Macquarie Park are home to over 7,000 registered weapons each.

Gosford in the state's Central Coast has over 8,000 registered guns, according to the report.

Guns handed in to Tasmanian police during a recent firearms amnesty (AAP IMAGE/Supplied by Tasmania Police)

With few exceptions, there are also no real limits on how many guns someone can have.

However, owners must establish a “genuine reason” for registering any new weapon— which can be related to activities including for sporting, farming, and work-related use.

But a NSW Auditor-General report released last week showed a number of discrepancies in the way the NSW fire arms registry keeps track of licenses.

Among other issues, the report said the Registry “is not adequately assessing the validity of the 'good' reason provided by licence holders for acquiring firearms.”

“There are several gun owners across Australia that more than 100 fire arms, now, that's not how the system is meant to be operating,” Lee said.

READ MORE: The US Has Passed New Gun Laws, The First In 25 Years

READ MORE: Gun Law Changes 'Kick In The Face' For Port Arthur Survivors

READ MORE: Crisis Talks Over Gun Regulation in NSW

But advocates say it's not the owners who are the problem and have attributed increased gun registration to growing popularity of shooting as a sport.

"It is unfair to equate the number of firearms with the possibility  of firearms crime," Laura Patterson from the Shooting Industry Foundation Australia told 10 News First.

Image: Getty Images

Patterson also described the General Audit report as "damning".

“Successive governments over... a long period of time have failed to make that investment in those technical systems to support good decision making.”

The NSW Police minister Troy Grant said “a number of steps have been taken to improve the Registry’s operations.

The Registry has developed work plans to implement other recommendations.”

Featured Image: AAP