Australian government pushes ahead with firearms laws

Original Story Via:  Perth Now

The federal government is pressing ahead with plans to create new aggravated offences for trafficking firearms or gun parts across state and national borders.

Justice Minister Jason Clare on Friday announced he would introduce the legislation into federal parliament next week – the last sitting days of the year.

“These new offences will carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment,” Mr Clare said in a statement.

“This will make the maximum penalty for trafficking in firearms the same as the maximum penalty for trafficking in drugs.”

Life sentences are a part of a major reform package announced in June to tackle the illegal weapons market.

Federal and state ministers have also agreed to develop a national firearms register and a ballistics identification network.

Experts from the United States will visit Australia in February 2013 to train police in tracing and tracking firearms.

Mr Clare and state and territory ministers responsible for police and emergency management discussed the reforms in Victoria on Friday.

It’s thought there are more than 250,000 illegal firearms in Australia.

Most are stolen or weren’t handed in after the Port Arthur massacre when former prime minister John Howard passed tough new gun laws.