Gun leak targeted

SERVICE Tasmania should be removed from the state's gun registration process in a bid to stop firearm owners being targeted by thieves, a pistol club president says. 

The president of the Launceston-based club made the comment in response to yet another large firearm heist in Tasmania.  

Following Friday's theft of 14 registered guns from a shooting club member's Newstead home, Police Minster Rene Hidding expressed concern about information on firearm locations floating about in the community.

That comes after 13 guns were stolen from a home at  Newnham in April and  the thefts of six firearms from a Bothwell home in January and 14  from a residence in Glenorchy in December. 

Jack Sheahan*, who has sat on a police firearm committee in the past,  said Service Tasmania was a possible weak link in the gun registration process.

Mr Sheahan said the old system of gun owners dealing exclusively with police should be reinstated. 

``I really think they need to have a closed loop in the information cycle between the public and the police,'' he said. 

``I personally, and talking to people throughout the state, am not happy about public servants outside  the police service having access.

``There is no way they can tell me that's a secure system.''

Mr Sheahan said he refused to go through Service Tasmania, which processes firearm applications and updates details,  instead choosing to deal directly with the police gun registry in Hobart. 

His comments aren't the first time Service Tasmania's role in registering firearms has been questioned. 

Last year an internal police investigation into alleged firearm database breaches focused on the department. 

The investigation examined  eight firearm thefts that occurred just after their owners' licences had been checked on the database or the owners had made contact with Service Tasmania. 

It ultimately concluded there was no evidence that the system had been misused. 

However, since June 2013  its staff have had greater access to the gun database, with workers now able  to retrieve names, photos and birth dates of gun owners from the system.

Service Tasmania has previously told  The Examiner  that  security arrangements are in place and all licensing transactions can  be traced back to individual staff. 

Staff also undergo National Criminal History checks. 

Mr Sheahan acknowledged that gun clubs had their own role to play when it came to security.

The identity of members of various clubs throughout the state can easily be accessed via club websites,  The Examiner  has found. 

``It's  hard one: we as a club have a by-law which allows members to excuse themselves from any printing of results,'' he said. 

``There's no doubt it's a problem.''

*The Examiner agreed to change the source's name after he cited gun security concerns.

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