Locked, not loaded: 70,000 guns on Darling Downs
KEEPING guns out of the hands of criminals is something which police and licensed owners such as Bryan Blakey are committed to.
The pistols and rifles in Mr Blakey's gun safe are among the more than 70,000 firearms currently registered to Darling Downs residents.
Of those, nearly 16,000 are registered to Toowoomba addresses.
Mr Blakey often imparts licensing, storage and safety tips to prospective gun owners in his role as Toowoomba Pistol Club president.
"You have just got to do things right," Mr Blakey said.
Finding those who are not doing things right is the focus of national operation being enforced in the region by Darling Downs police.
There were 51 firearms reported stolen on the Darling Downs last year which was down from 95 guns stolen in 2012.
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Darling Downs District Crime Group officer Detective Acting Inspector Paul Hart said police would be working closely with registered firearms owners during the two-week operation to review the security of their weapons.
They will also be targeting anyone suspected of having illicit weapons in their possession.
It is a part of Operation Unification, designed to reduce the number of illicit firearms in the community.
"It's our experience that unlicensed or illegal firearms are usually not secured in an appropriate manner and can be accessed by unintended persons such as children," Det. Act. Insp. Hart said.
"They are also more likely to be stolen.
"Illicit firearms often end up in the hands of criminals or as part of serious organised crime activities, including those involving criminal motorcycle gangs."
Mr Blakey said police did regular audits of his firearms to ensure they were stored correctly and serial numbers matched records.
His gun safe was is fixed to the structure of his home, with ammunition stored separately.
He said the majority of his members would not want to be publicly identified as owning firearms for fear of someone trying to take them.
However, he said he did not feel threatened.
"You just make sure that they are locked up."