Gunman shot dead after Sydney shooting spree, raising questions about Australia's gun control

Gun ownership in Australia has increased over the past 20 years, with roughly 3.2 million firearms in circulation.
Gun ownership in Australia has increased over the past 20 years, with roughly 3.2 million firearms in circulation.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

SYDNEY (DPA, NYTIMES) - A gunman was shot dead after an hour-long shooting spree in western Sydney on Wednesday (Oct 2) night, in which he opened fire on a residential home and two police stations.

New South Wales (NSW) Police declared the shooting at a police station a critical incident, which left multiple officers with injuries, including one who is being treated in hospital for a pellet wound to his head.

Police said a number of shots were fired into the front of St Marys Police Station on Wednesday night. Shortly after, the same gunman, armed with a pump-action 12 gauge shotgun, fired a number of shots at police officers at Penrith Police Station. Police returned fire, fatally injuring the man who died at the scene, NSW Police said in a statement overnight.

The two shootings are linked to an earlier incident where shots were fired into a suburban home in the western Sydney suburb of Marayong, police said.

Local media identified the gunman as 32-year-old bodybuilder Daniel King. Reports said the suburban home belonged to his estranged girlfriend, who is seven months pregnant with King’s child.

NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Jeff Loy said officers had “no choice” but to return fire.

"This is a very unusual event and his criminality was extreme,” Mr Loy told Sydney’s 2GB radio on Thursday.

The shooting comes at a time of rising concern among gun control advocates in Australia who have been arguing for years that the country's strict gun laws - passed after a mass shooting in 1996 - have been weakened over time by a small but powerful gun lobby.

 
 
 

Gun ownership has increased over the past 20 years, with roughly 3.2 million firearms in circulation, according to gunpolicy.org, and recent reports have shown that gun owners now have more guns - about 3.9 guns each compared with 2.1 guns in 1997.

Indiscriminate gun violence, while still rare, seems to be re-emerging across the country.

In June, a gunman shot and killed four people in the northern city of Darwin. And last year, seven people, including four children, were found dead from gunshot wounds in a town south of Perth. It was the country's worst mass shooting in more than 20 years.

New South Wales, the state that includes Sydney, is often described as Australia's least restrictive jurisdiction when it comes to protection from guns because it allows the use of silencers, has removed a requirement that people provide a reason for owning extra firearms, and does not limit ammunition purchases.

But it was not clear if Wednesday's shooting reflected any of these broader trends.