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Semi-automatic rifles to give specialist police officers accuracy from 100m away

Macquarie National News

Victorian police officers are set to be armed with military style, semi-automatic rifles.

Only the Special Operations Group and the Critical Incident Response Team have access to the semi-automatic and machine guns.

However, that’s tipped to change amid the risk of terror attacks and the increasing prevalence of gun crime in Melbourne.

Wayne Gatt, Secretary of the Police Association told 3AW Breakfast it would bring Victoria Police in line with other states.

“It’s military grade semi-automatic rifles effectively, which is what we see rolled out in police forces in other states and certainly around the world,” he said.

“Not quite a sniping (gun), currently police have weapons that are effective between 15-20 odd metres with accuracy, this would stretch out that range something more in the vicinity of 100 metres.”

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Graham Ashton has told Neil Mitchell he’s concerned police in regional and rural areas aren’t adequately armed and the review of police weaponry isn’t simply focused on first responders to terror attacks in Melbourne.

“If you’re in a country area and turn up in the middle of the night, family violence incident at a farmhouse and you know the occupant of the farmhouse has high powered firearms, those sort of situations where police need to have access to those sorts of firearms,” Chief Commissioner Ashton said.

The Age reports Victoria Police is set to give officers wide access to powerful, long-arm guns.

They’re likely to be kept under lock and key in vehicles and general duty officers will get access to them in situations when SOG or CIRT officers are yet to arrive.

It’s not yet clear when the weapons upgrade will be announced.

But a university experts who has studied the carriage of firearms by police for decades has issued a warning.

Professor Rick Sarre from the University of South Australia says it carries enormous risks.

“The risks involved, quite simply, are if they get in the wrong hands,” he told 3AW this morning.

“If ambushed, suddenly the people who shouldn’t be having access to these weapons get easy access to these weapons.”

Macquarie National News