The Police Minister for New South Wales is calling for tighter gun laws, following the tragic murder-suicide of a father and his two teenage children which rocked the state last week.
Police Minister Troy Grant will meet with Police Commissioner Mick Fuller on Tuesday to discuss possible firearm law reforms in the hope of averting further tragedies, but would not confirm whether the stricter laws would involve a clamp-down on who can own firearms.
“We are meeting with our colleagues in this space to discuss what can be done to avert this sort of tragedy. We need to get all the information, we don’t do policy on the run.”
Grant’s comments echoed those of NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian who admitted the state government was open to discussing reform on Monday, when she said:”If there is something we need to do sooner, we will.”
The Minister for Justice and Police revealed that one option which may be considered is the NSW police force working concurrently with the family court, gun clubs, doctors and other entities to improve the “information flow” between agencies, describing it as a “complex issue”.
The move comes after 68-year-old father John Edwards shot and killed his two teenage children, Jack, 15, and Jennifer, 13, on Thursday. The teenager’s mother discovered their bodies in their beds at the home in West Pennant Hills, Sydney. Mr Edwards’ body was then discovered at his home around 7km away.
Following the deaths it was revealed that the NSW Firearms Registry informed the Ku-Ring-Gai Pistols Club in January 2017 that under no circumstances should Mr Edwards be given access to a firearm. Despite this he was later able to join the St Mary’s Indoor Shooting Centre, owned by the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia. He then obtained a firearms licence and permit before legally buying his weapons, including those used to shoot his children last week.
However Mr Grant urged the public to hold Mr Edwards accountable for his role in the double homicide, he said: “Gun licences are issued on the assessment of a person’s character. The person has acquired a gun in the confines of the framework of the current system.
“But let’s not forget the overriding fact is that we’re talking about someone who is pure evil, who has done the unimaginable. The fact that firearms were used is a significant part of the story, but equally significant is that he had the actions and the mindset to carry out this. It’s mind-numbing, to think that anybody has that capacity.”
In May, seven family members were killed in a shocking murder-suicide in Margaret River, Western Australia, when grandfather Peter Miles shot dead his wife Cynda, daughter Katrina and her children Taye, 13, Rylan, 12, Ayre, 10, and eight-year-old Kayden.
The incident was the worst mass shooting to take place in Australia since the Port Arthur massacre of 1996, when 35 people were killed and 23 wounded in Port Arthur, Tasmania, by gunman Martin Bryant, 28.
Less than a month after the massacre, the National Firearms Agreement was drafted, which listed extensive licensing and registration procedures, including a 28-day waiting period for gun sales. In addition, it banned all fully automatic or semiautomatic weapons, except when potential buyers could provide a valid reason—which did not include self-defence—for owning such a firearm. The federal government also instituted a gun-buyback program, which resulted in the surrender of some 700,000 firearms.