Proposed sweeping changes to firearm possession in Western Australia follow in the shadow of changes in NSW and Victoria, where authorities have the power to stop and search on demand if a person is subject to a prohibition order.
WA police are set to be supported by new legislation to keep guns out of the hands of bikies and other serious criminals after a spate of public shootings, headlined by the assassination of Rebels boss Nick Martin.
The firearm prohibition orders have helped curb gun crime in NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
Police Minister Paul Papalia has announced new police powers and tough penalties to crack down on bikies and organised crime. Credit: Justin Benson-Cooper/The West Australian
Under legislation in NSW, Firearm Prohibition Orders can be made by the Police Commissioner upon nomination from police officers or Firearms Registry staff.
A person subject to an FPO can face a maximum penalty of 14 years’ jail if they are found with a pistol or prohibited firearm, or five years’ jail in any other case.
NSW Police have the power to stop and detain any vehicle being driven by a person subject to an FPO for the purpose of a search.
Jarred James Marko, the vice president of the Bandidos’ Mid-North Coast chapter, was recently arrested after officers from the elite police Raptor Squad conducted an FPO check on his home in June.
Bandido Jarred Marko was arrested at his Weston home in June after a Firearms Prohibition Order search. NSW Police. Credit: Supplied
Police allege ammunition, a wooden rifle, a knife and cannabis were seized from the property.
The senior bikie has pleaded not guilty to multiple serious charges, including possessing a prohibited weapon contrary to a prohibition order and possessing ammunition.
According to quarterly data from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR), the number of prohibited and regulated weapon offences were down 11.6 per cent over the 24 months to June this year.
In Victoria, FPO legislation – introduced in 2018 – allows police to ban people subject to the orders from visiting shooting ranges and clubs, gun shots and even paintball locations.
Offenders subject to an FPO face a maximum penalty of 10 years’ jail and can face up to eight years’ jail if in possession of a silencer or other prescribed items.
1038 people have been slapped with the prohibitions since 2018.
Last year, there were nine fatal shootings and 41 non-fatal shootings resulting in injury, with police seizing more than 770 firearms.
Senior Rebels bikie Colin Websdale successfully challenged his FPO but a Victorian Court later ruled in favour of police keeping the ban in place. Ian Currie Credit: News Corp Australia
Senior Rebels bikie Colin Websdale – who was placed on an FPO the same year the laws were introduced – successfully fought his order but it was eventually revoked by the Court of Appeal.
Earlier this year, a new Illicit Firearms Unit was set up within Victoria Police in a bid to curb the tracking and manufacturing of illegal weapons.
In Queensland, no specific FPO legislation has been drafted into law but maximum penalties of up to 13 years’ jail apply for unlawfully possessing a weapon.
In 2019 Opposition MP Trevor Watts introduced a bill that would insert FPO into the existing Weapons Act, making it illegal for a person subject to the order to possess or acquire a firearm along with restrictions on attending shooting ranges or being in the company of a person with a firearm.