‘Lost or stolen’: Man's licence bid after 22 guns go missing
A GUN owner, who lost or had stolen 22 weapons in 28 years, has had his firearms licence revoked.
Desmond William Gehrke went to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal in Brisbane to appeal the initial decision.
The tribunal heard Mr Gehrke disputed the police figure of 22 and claimed he had eight or nine guns stolen.
He told the tribunal the guns had been taken by family members living with him, who broke into his safe when he was at church or on holidays.
In May last year, police officers attended Mr Gehrke's property.
They found a loaded rifle registered to him under a cushion in a caravan.
According to the police brief, Mr Gehrke told the officers he hid the gun so he could easily use it to shoot wild dogs that were hunting his sheep.
Police claimed Mr Gehrke told them he had done nothing wrong and should be able to store his weapons any way he saw fit.
At the hearing, Mr Gehrke disputed making the last statement, saying that was not his attitude as he was aware he could not afford to make a mistake.
In court earlier this year, Mr Gehrke pleaded guilty to offences relating to the incident and was ordered to pay a recognisance of $500, with a 12 month good behaviour bond imposed on him.
No conviction was recorded.
The guilty plea led to his firearms licence being revoked.
Mr Gehrke told the tribunal he needed the licence so he could control wild dogs on his land.
He said his son was now living on the property with him and had a new firearms safe, although Mr Gehrke did not know how to get into it.
QCTA member Glen Cranwell said it was clear Mr Gehrke had stored the rifle in his caravan for the purposes of convenience.
He also accepted police records stating the number of firearms which had disappeared was 22.
"It has not been necessary for me to consider whether Mr Gehrke took reasonable precautions to prevent each individual loss or theft, and I do not have sufficient evidence before me to undertake that exercise in respect of all 22 firearms in any event," he said
"However, there comes a point where the sheer number of firearms lost or stolen is capable of giving rise to an inference that Mr Gehrke has been at the very least careless in the storage of his firearms.
Member Cranwell said he understood it would be more difficult for Mr Gehrke to control wild dogs on his property but public safety had to come first.
"Mr Gehrke's history regarding the storage of firearms, and the risk that this gives rise to, strongly outweighs any inconvenience to him," he said.