Federal guns database takes aim at states

Emboldened by its Senate majority, the federal government is pushing ahead with a proposed national database to monitor firearms and their owners in Australia, with Justice Minister Chris Ellison describing the project as a "radical overhaul" of firearms licensing, registration and tracking.

Six months after the scheme was announced, the federal Attorney General's department has released a request for tender for a scoping for study for a centralized national database and management system for Australian firearms, with government documents revealing the scoping study alone could be worth up to $1 million.

The study aims to analyze information technology requirements and opportunities, as well as legal, legislative, policy and operational implications for the database. If successful, the system will span currently siloed, state-based gun registries and create an online portal to view sales and ownership information.

A spokesperson from the Attorney General's office said the study will assess IT systems and broad options for the system to develop a business case for the National Firearms Management System (NFMS).

Federally, the system has bi-partisan support with Shadow Minister for Justice and Customs Joe Ludwig supporting the project saying it will revolutionize disparate state firearm laws. However, Ludwig noted the idea originated from the Labor-dominated Australasian Police Ministers' council.

"States currently have their own database and this incorporates a national system ... weeks of searching would be able to be done quicker," Ludwig said pointing to the national fingerprint database spanning nine jurisdictions as "powerful stuff so the concept is excellent".

"The scoping study will develop a report then come back to the [Police] Ministers' council for a cost-benefit analysis and then go forward from there," Ludwig said.

However, NSW parliamentarian and Shooters Party member John Tingle questioned how long the proposal would take to become reality.

"At the Police Ministers' conference it was proposed [to investigate] how states would exchange details of firearms used in crimes - not a general registration," Tingle said.

"NSW has an integrated licensing system and corrupts computers in other states when it is connected; as a result NSW has not been in a national system and I have no reason to believe it would work now."

The request for tender for the scoping study closes on February 25.

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