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Lindt Cafe siege gun believed to have come from the 'grey' market -

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LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Last December, as an horrific siege unfolded inside Sydney's Lindt Cafe, one of the many unknowns was exactly what weapons the gunman had.

Shadowy images showed what looked like a sawn-off shotgun and today that weapon was seen clearly for the first time at the inquest into the siege.

It's still not clear how Man Haron Monis got the gun, but it's believed it was among the estimated quarter of a million firearms that make up Australia's dangerous so-called grey gun market.

Tracy Bowden reports.

TRACY BOWDEN, REPORTER: When Man Haron Monis walked into the Lindt Cafe last December, he was carrying a plastic bag. Inside was a sawn-off shot gun.

17 hours later, he fired, then police stormed the cafe, ending the siege.

But where did the gun come from and how did he get it?

JEREMY GORMLY, COUNSEL ASSISTING: So what we see there is a very considerable cut-back of the original weapon. At the bottom, that is a photograph of the Monis gun and it's not difficult to see just how much of the butt has been cut off and how much of the barrel.

TRACY BOWDEN: The gun was a French-made La Salle pump-action shotgun. Today the inquest was told the weapon is capable of firing four shots in as little as five seconds. A police ballistics investigator loaded the gun with dummy cartridges and fired several times.

As to its history, the gun was probably legally imported in the late-1950s by dealer Fuller Firearms, then located in the centre of Sydney. Back then there was no need to register such guns in Australia and they were mostly used by farmers and recreational shooters.

MALE VOICEOVER (archive footage): The Firearms Act, 1958 doesn't require the registration of 22-calibre pea rifles or smooth bore shotguns. There's no minimum age limit on the ownership and use of a shotgun, though most gunsmiths wouldn't sell one to a child. As there's no license demanded, almost anyone can own them.

JEREMY GORMLY (Aug. 17): It seems likely that it spent much of its life in the function for which it was manufactured, namely in the nature of a farm gun or a personal gun, sport gun.

TRACY BOWDEN: So how does a gun used by farmers and hunters in rural Australia end up in the hands of a criminal?

TONY PARSONS, ORGANISED CRIME, QLD POLICE: A lot of firearms are being taken through break and enters. Of course it doesn't take very long at all, only a matter of hours and days for the weapons to be dispersed further afield.

TRACY BOWDEN: It's estimated that there are 250,000 guns in what's called the grey gun market.

TONY PARSONS: Grey market weapons can be classed as those weapons that currently aren't on the radar or the books of the law enforcement authorities around Australia, the weapons that have been out there since pre-'96, '98 sort of period when legislation and the administration of weapons first came into the Government's focus.

TRACY BOWDEN: After the Port Arthur Massacre, Australia introduced tougher gun laws under the National Firearms Agreement. More than 660,000 long guns were bought and destroyed during a buyback scheme.

Whoever owned the shotgun later used by Man Haron Monis did not hand it in.

JEREMY GORMLY: There are no registration records in any state or territory in relation to this firearm, nor is it recorded on the criminal and forensic databases of police agencies around the country.

TONY PARSONS: A percentage of the criminal culture seek and obtain the weapons for their own purposes. Generically, it would be to do with the drug trade or standover tactics, criminal association. The possession of those weapons obviously carries with it a very large risk to the public, an unacceptable risk to the public.

TRACY BOWDEN: Shotguns are often modified by criminals.

TONY PARSONS: The weapons will be cut down into a shorter version of its original state. Stocks will be altered so the weapon's a lot more concealable, a lot more transportable.

TRACY BOWDEN: On the day of the siege the gunman was carrying 21 cartridges in his pockets and there were two in the shotgun.

NEWSREADER: A Melbourne woman is in a critical condition in hospital after she was shot in Avondale Heights last night.

TRACY BOWDEN: Unregistered firearms are often used in serious crimes and are regularly seized by police. Some are illegally imported or made here, but many are part of the invisible grey market.

PENNY WRIGHT, GREENS SENATOR: We absolutely need to make sure that the guns are not getting into the criminal hands or the hands of people who intend to do harm. And we must be sure that if the grey market is a prime source of those guns, we crack down on that.

TRACY BOWDEN: The lack of accurate data about the illicit firearms market in Australia was highlighted in a Senate inquiry last year.

PENNY WRIGHT: We need to have much better communication between police agencies, between states in Australia to make sure that gun tracing is effective. That way we can know where guns come from and where they go when they're stolen.

TRACY BOWDEN: There is no record of Man Haron Monis ever holding a gun licence. The inquest has been told that his home was searched by police on several occasions from 2009 to 2013 and no gun was found. It seems likely the shotgun used in the siege was a recent acquisition.

NICK O'BRIEN, COUNTER-TERRORISM, CHARLES STURT UNI.: We're at the situation in Australia where we have probably the same amount of guns in circulation as we did when Port Arthur happened.

TRACY BOWDEN: Counter-terrorism expert Nick O'Brien believes one way to reduce the pool of unregistered guns like the one used by Monis would be another national gun amnesty.

NICK O'BRIEN: I think you need to approach it in two ways. You need to increase the penalties for having illegal firearms, but at the same time, I think now is the time for a buyback, an amnesty. When we have the amount of illegal firearms that we have in this country and we don't do anything about it proactively, then I think people could question how tough we are in the case of firearms.

LEIGH SALES: Tracy Bowden reporting