Police have seized guns and ammunition as well as a hand grenade in raids on three Canberra residences they say are linked to an outlaw motorcycle gang.
ACT Policing said in a statement that Criminal Investigations detectives had executed three warrants that resulted in the seizure of:
- Two automatic rifles
- One pump action shotgun
- Two double barrel sawn-off shotguns
- Two self-loading .22 calibre rifles, one with a silencer attached
- One hand grenade
- One bullet proof vest
- A large quantity of various ammunition for each of the above firearms
Police said a 24-year-old Richardson man associated with a criminal gang was arrested in relation to one of the firearms and was to face the ACT Magistrates Court today.
A 24-year-old Chisholm man would be summonsed in relation to possession of ammunition.
ACT Policing said investigations into the remaining weapons and prohibited items were continuing with a number of people assisting police with their enquiries.
“Forensic examinations will be conducted to determine if any of the seized weapons were involved in recent incidents,” it said.
The raids come only days after the Government introduced new laws to the Legislative Assembly to deal with the ACT’s upsurge in violence associated with outlaw motorcycle gangs.
The Crimes (Police Powers and Firearms Offence) Amendment Bill 2017 introduces a specific, new offence for drive-by shootings, and more powers for police at crime scenes to immediately secure evidence. Shooting into any building or vehicle, including homes, will be a crime and attract a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.
Attorney-General Gordon Ramsay said the new laws would give the police the tools they need to protect the community from organised criminals like outlaw motorcycle gangs.
But the Opposition said they did not go far enough, and continued to call for anti-consorting laws to disrupt bikie gangs’ criminal activities.
The Government’s tough approach has come under fire from the ACT Bar Association and the ACT Law Society, which expressed alarm at the breadth of the Bill.
In a joint statement, the President of the ACT Bar Association, Ken Archer, and the President of the ACT Law Society, Sarah Avery, said the laws fundamentally re-drew the relationship between citizens and the police in the ACT.
“The new crime scene powers contained in the Crimes (Police Powers and Firearms Offence) Amendment Bill 2017 have been drawn so widely that it would permit police officers to enter any premises without a warrant to investigate offences such a bike theft or shoplifting a chocolate bar from the local cafe. The premises need not even be the premises of the person who is suspected of stealing,” they said.
“Telephone search warrants are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is not clear why the requirement of getting a warrant has been altered in such a fundamental way nor why the extraordinary powers envisaged by this legislation have not been targeted at the specific offending behaviour that has justified the introduction of this Bill.
“As drafted, this provision will give all police power to enter premises without a warrant to investigate even the most trivial of crimes at any time of the day or night. Police will also be permitted to stay there and exercise crimes scene powers for six hours without the need to get a warrant, and using whatever force the police consider reasonable.”
They said that while the community wanted police to have sufficient power to properly investigate those engaged in violent and dangerous conduct, such as shooting at people’s houses, any extra powers should be carefully targeted and not involve such an indiscriminate and unjustified compromise of traditional freedoms and protections.