THE number of guns owned by Australians is as high as it was at the time of the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, but does it present any more of a risk to society?
Research by Professor Philip Alpers, from the Sydney University school of public health, shows the number of guns in Australia has climbed steadily in the last 17 years.
Despite Professor Alpers’ claims that more than one million guns were surrendered following the massacre, the number has steadily grown back to what it once was.
However, the research does not factor in the increase in population, which has grown by almost five million people in that period.
Ballarat Police say there has not been a noted increase in gun registration or gun crimes in the city.
Although there was an incident at the weekend where a gunman shot at parked cars and a house, police said the issue of guns had not gotten any worse in recent times.
However, the owner of one of the cars said any increase in gun numbers gave extra reason not to feel safe.
“I don’t understand why people who are not in rural settings would even need a gun,” said the owner, who wished to remain anonymous.
“The type of person that drives around shooting guns out of windows definitely aren’t the sort of people we want having guns.
“More guns definitely don’t make people feel any safer.”
However, gun owner Tully Smith said he was a supporter of Australia’s current gun laws and said the type of guns owned by people was far more important than the quantity owned.
“I’d love to see the percentage of gun owners in terms of the population,” he said.
Professor Alpers said many people had relinquished their guns after the Port Arthur massacre, either willingly or for compensation.
But since then the number of guns had gradually climbed.
“What our research found was that a huge number of people gave in their guns for no compensation at all,” he said.
“Gradually for the past 10 years, they have been creeping up again.”