Bill Potts appears on Channel 9’s A Current Affair and comments to the Gold Coast Bulletin regarding guns on the Gold Coast and the inadequacies of current gun laws.
Market for guns thriving
Anne-Louise Brown| December 7th, 2010 | Gold Coast Bulletin
The black market gun trade is rife on the Gold Coast, yesterday touted as “Australia’s new crime capital”, with sawn-off shotguns selling for as little as $200.
Leading Coast solicitor Bill Potts has dealt with many shady characters in his time and said that, from what he had heard, getting a gun was easy “if you know somebody that knows somebody”.
“The black market gun trade is thriving on the Gold Coast,” Mr Potts said.
“The big problem is the people who are buying them are the type of characters willing to use them.
“Their philosophy is ‘if you’ve got it, use it’.”
Mr Potts said sawn-off shotguns had a street value of as little as $200, whereas “more prized” handguns sold for up to $8000.
He said the illegal gun trade was generally associated with bikie gangs, drug syndicates and other organised crime.
Many guns on the black market had been stolen from collectors and gun clubs but Mr Potts indicated many were being smuggled into Australia from China and Eastern Europe.
In his opinion harsh gun laws introduced in 1996 by the Howard Government after the Port Arthur massacre had not deterred people from buying illegal weapons.
However he said police were doing a good job at controlling the illegal firearm trade.
“Any law is only as good as its ability to be enforced,” Mr Potts said. “I think the police are doing everything they can to stop the black market weapon trade.”
Yesterday, Queensland Police Union president Ian Leavers declared the Coast “Australia’s new crime capital”.
Mr Leavers said the union was very concerned about the shootings and the lack of plain-clothes detectives and general police.
“I have long said that the Gold Coast is the new crime capital of Australia and police are vastly under-resourced on the Gold Coast,” Mr Leavers said.
“Organised crime is a huge issue on the Gold Coast.”
A Coast gun dealer, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Bulletin: “It’s easy to get a gun illegally if you want one. You’ve just got to know the right people.”
On the Coast there are 6537 registered gun owners but the gun dealer believes thousands more have illegal weapons, some for sinister reasons.
“If you’re a criminal it wouldn’t make much sense to register your weapon,” he said.
There’s that many guns out there unregistered it’s not funny.”
He said recreational gun owners who followed the letter of the law were punished with stricter gun laws because of the “criminal element”.
He said “thousands” of illegal weapons were being brought into Australia from overseas.
A Federal Government report states up to 4000 firearms and gun accessories are detected by customs each year.