U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Firearm Trafficking and Serious and Organised Crime Gangs

NCJ Number
Samantha Bricknell
Date Published
74 pages
This report describes the characteristics of the illicit firearms market in Australia and its association with serious and organized crime groups (SOCTGs).
The illicit firearms market consists of those firearms that were illegally imported into or illegally manufactured in Australia, diverted from the licit market, or moved from the "Gray" market. It is impossible to estimate the size of the illicit market. Describing the likely composition of illicit stock is, however, a more realistic objective. The current study used data on some of the unregistered firearms seized by police and compiled in the Australian Crime Commission's National Firearm Trace Database. These data were used to quantify the types of firearms seized from SOCGs. These data were compared with the firearms seized from persons or groups determined not to be involved in organized crime. A high proportion of firearms seized from SOCGs were restricted; 47 percent of all firearms recovered from entities involved in serious and organized crime were illicit under Australian law. Semi-automatic rifles were the most common restricted long-arm recovered from SOCGs, accounting for 69 percent of all restricted long-arms. Semi-automatic pistols were the most common handgun (72 percent of all restricted handguns). Restricted long-arms and handguns were not as common among non-SOCG-related seizures, but still composed a sizeable proportion of firearms seized. Overall, the firearms trafficking network is not highly organized even though it is dominated by SOCGs. Illegal importation of firearms has been reported by some to be a critical source for illicit firearms; however, the current analysis suggests importation is a minor source for illegal firearms. Suggestions are offered for improving data collected on seized illicit firearms in order to assist in accurately tracing firearms and in enabling a better understanding of the mechanics of the illicit market. The latter information will inform methods for countering the acquisition of illicit firearms. 13 tables and 76 references