Progress has been made on a National Firearms Register decades in the making. 

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus has announced funding for the establishment of a National Firearms Register.

The announcement fulfils a long-standing commitment dating back to the National Firearms Agreement of 1996. 

This strategic move comes in response to glaring regulatory gaps exposed by the tragic murders of two police officers in 2022.

The Queensland Police's inability to access real-time information regarding firearm licences across state lines was a significant security lapse, highlighted during the investigation of the murders by Nathaniel Train, who possessed a firearm licence in New South Wales unknown to Queensland officers. 

The proposed register, funded with an allocation of $161.3 million over four years, promises a robust solution by providing near real-time data on gun ownership and related risks, drawn from various state and territory sources.

“The National Firearms Register will allow law enforcement to assess firearms risks by providing frontline police officers with near real-time information on firearms, parts, and owners and linking firearms information with other relevant police and government information, including information from the National Criminal Intelligence System,” Dreyfus says.

This reform is expected to bridge the critical gaps in the current Australian Firearms Information Network (AFIN), which has been criticised for its limited data collection, impacting police capacity to assess potential threats. 

The new register will replace AFIN, aiming for comprehensive coverage by incorporating data from existing firearms registries, portals, and management systems into a federated model.

Community safety advocates have hailed the development as a “monumental win”, emphasising the life-saving potential of a unified data system. 

With approximately 900,000 registered firearm owners and 4 million registered civilian firearms in Australia, the register will also support ongoing consultations and enhancements throughout its implementation, as outlined by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC).

National cabinet has endorsed the plan and detailed discussions are set to continue.