The federal Attorney-General's department said in a request for tender issued today "the scoping study will require analysis of information technology requirements and opportunities, legal and legislative implications, operational and policy matters".
The government last year flagged the development of a national system, with the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, saying the government would commit AU$1 million to the study. The system would, he said, enable law enforcement agencies to track firearms more easily throughout Australia and streamline existing processes for sporting shooters.
Gun control and management has been a controversial issue in Australia since April 1996, when loner Martin Bryant used semi-automatic weapons to kill 35 people in the Tasmanian township of Port Arthur.
The registration of firearms and licensing of firearms owners is presently undertaken by states and territories, with mechanisms for doing so varying by jurisdiction. The government says it envisages the national firearms management system as "creating a seamless system to manage the identification, registration, licensing and movement of firearms throughout Australia, from the point of manufacture or import through to destruction or export.
"It is essential that the study be conducted in a comprehensive, independent and transparent manner that allows the views of all stakeholders to be considered, including sporting shooters, the commercial firearms industry, state and territory governments and the Australian government".
The tender closes on 25 February and the successful tenderer will be required to prepare a final report for consideration by the Australasian Police Ministers' Council. The scoping study and report are expected to be completed by 31 July.