Culture

This Mildly Terrifying Website Shows You How Many Registered Guns Are In Your Suburb

There are way, way, WAY more guns in your neighbourhood than you think.

Guns have been in the public eye lately — the twentieth anniversary of the Port Arthur massacre is coming up, and the question of whether we need such strict firearm laws has been dusted off once again. As is usually the case, and the whinging of certain right-wing fringe politicians notwithstanding, the answer to that question has been an emphatic “yes, thanks” from almost all corners.

Australians are so supportive of strict firearm laws, in fact, that you may be surprised at how many weapons are actually out there in the community. More than 850,000 firearms are in private hands in NSW alone, up 40 percent since 2001. That’s roughly one gun for every nine people, and a hell of a lot for a state in a country internationally renowned for its restrictive firearms legislation.

If state figures are a bit too abstract to wrap your head around, a new website from NSW Greens upper house pollie David Shoebridge should help put things in perspective. Drawing on data obtained from NSW Police via Freedom of Information requests, Shoebridge’s office has put together Too Many Guns, a site that tracks the numbers of registered firearms and firearms holders in every postcode in NSW. Playing with it for five minutes yields one overwhelming impression: there are a shit-ton of guns in NSW, and not just in the places you’d think.

Take Newtown in Sydney’s inner west, for example — possibly the most inner-city hipster, peace-loving leftie-heavy place in the state. According to Too Many Guns, there are no less than 192 registered firearms kicking around in that tiny postcode alone.

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I am so upset by this information.

Or Surry Hills, where the only thing that outnumbers the artisan coffee shops and pop-up concept boutique burger bars is graphic designers named Axel. There are a solid 283 registered firearms in Surry Hills, 78 of which belong to a single registered owner — a piece of information that’s going to make me far nicer to people I walk past in the street when I go and get lunch each day.

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It gets better: the site also has a list of the largest private arsenals in the state. “Private arsenals?” I hear you say. “Surely people can’t have private arsenals in Australia!” Oh, how wrong you are, chum! How terrifyingly wrong you are. As Too Many Guns puts it, “there are dozens of people in ordinary suburbs and towns who quite literally own private arsenals,” and there are “100 citizens in NSW [who] have more than 70 guns each”.

Topping that list, in a regional suburb about 15 kilometres west of central Newcastle, is some hero with no less than 322 guns to their name. Three hundred and twenty-two guns. That is too many guns, guy. I’m fairly sure battles have been fought with fewer guns than that. Why do you need that many guns.

It’s fun imagining the kind of human person who would go to the time, effort and expense to accrue, store and own 322 guns. Where would you keep them all? You couldn’t fit 322 guns in a house! You could maybe build a house out of 322 guns, but the end result wouldn’t function very well either as a house or a small militia’s worth of guns. It’d be difficult to shut the door at night, for instance. Also, the door might shoot you in the fucking face, because it would be a door made out of guns.

Have a play with Too Many Guns here, and enjoy wondering which of your neighbourhood’s local identities is packing enough hardware to run a low-key guerrilla war campaign out of their basement.