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Illegal firearms and weapons

Investigating the possession and use of illegal firearms and weapons in Australia
    About this crime type

    About this crime

    Australia has some of the strongest firearms controls in the world.

    However, criminals use the grey market and dark web to traffick illegal weapons for use in criminal activity. This is a serious national threat and a significant safety concern for the Australian community.

    Weapons trafficking has links to:

    The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) estimates more than 260,000 firearms are in the illicit market.

    The market for illegal weapons is driven in part by:

    • drug traffickers
    • organised crime rings
    • outlaw motorcycle gangs
    • terrorist groups.

    While these groups have direct links to illicit firearms, other criminals get and use firearms illegally through various means.

    Some weapons were not handed in as part of the buyback scheme when Australia tightened its gun laws in 1996. Some are stolen from firearm dealers. Some are illegally manufactured, even using 3D printing. They may also be illegally imported.

    Special Operation Ironside has allowed the AFP to intercept tonnes of drugs and weapons bound for Australia and has prevented people being killed.

    Special Operation Ironside

    Crime Interrupted

    We provided exclusive access to our case vault and this podcast series provides a detailed insight into how the AFP interrupts the most serious of crimes.

    Crime interrupted podcast

    Our work


    Drug crime

    The drug business model is complex. We are the only agency that can take action against all aspects of the drug traffickers’ business model. This includes their operations, logistics, finances and communications. We can also pursue them both in Australia and overseas.

    We work to disrupt the importation and supply of border-controlled drugs and precursors into Australia. We do this through collaboration with our domestic and international partners. We also have an extensive international network, with over 200 AFP officers deployed across more than 30 countries.

    Other serious and organised crime

    We work with an international network of partners to stop transnational serious and organised crime (TSOC) before it reaches Australia.

    We also work on operations with local and international partners to create a hostile environment for crime in Australia. These partnerships allow us to identify, investigate and prosecute related crimes.


    We fight serious and organised crime with a range of specialist capabilities. These include:

    • the AFP international network
    • criminal assets confiscation
    • covert intelligence and surveillance
    • forensics.

    Our overseas-based officers build relationships with our international counterparts to combat crime before it reaches Australia.

    The Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce directly targets criminals' wealth and assets. It identifies and removes the profits of crime and restrains criminal assets.

    Our intelligence capabilities include physical and technical surveillance. These provide key insights to allow us to plan actions against crime with maximum impact.

    And our forensics experts maximise our operational impact by providing information on the quality and origins of drugs and chemicals. This helps us to track and disrupt global criminal supply chains.

    Report a crime or concern

    We can investigate Commonwealth crimes (sometimes called federal crimes) and crimes that take place in the Australian Capital Territory. What best describes the crime you want to report or what you want to tell us about?

    How to report

    Before submitting a report read our illegal firearms and weapons-related information to report accurately

    We want to know if you have information on anyone possessing or using illegal firearms or weapons. Send us information by either:

    If there is immediate danger, call000.

    Join us

    Keep Australia and Australians safe. Work with one of our teams that investigates illegal firearm activity.

    As a counter-terrorism investigator, you'll have a front-row seat in protecting Australians and ensuring national security. You'll collect, prepare and present information and evidence to support counter-terrorism investigations.

    Our airport operations team members ensure the safe, secure and efficient air services that are critical to Australia's national security and public confidence.

    Intelligence analysts and officers work behind the scenes to help detect and prevent crime, directly influencing our results.

    Or join the world leaders in policing science and technology as a forensics team member.

    Learn more about these roles:

    You can apply for positions when they are advertised on our Jobs portal.

    Officer with seized weapos
    Police and PSOs

    Protective service officer

    Police and PSOs

    Canine handler

    Police and PSOs

    Police officer — ACT Policing

    Specialist and support

    Examiner or investigator - Forensics