West Australians are being urged to dob in an illegal gun owner as part of a national Crime Stoppers campaign launched today.

Operation Unification is an attempt to reduce the availability of guns to criminals and includes rewards for information that helps get illegal firearms off the streets.

The Australian Crime Commission estimates there are at least a quarter of a million illegal guns in circulation around Australia and as many as 10 per cent of those - or 25,000 - are likely to be in WA.

Police say that while gun-related crime remains low in WA, every gun in the wrong hands has the potential to shatter innocent lives.

"These guns are predominantly used as a tool of intimidation among criminals, but there is a significant risk to all members of the public while they re in circulation in the community," Acting Cdr State Crime Scott Higgins said.

"They remain a commodity form criminals for many years and are known to cross borders."

So far this year, the police gang crime squad has seized 38 guns from bikies and their associates.

Cdr Higgins said it was now normal for police when carrying out drug raids to also find firearms.

A specialist unit that targets suburban drug dealers has recovered 23 guns and 5745 rounds of ammunition since it began operations last October.

In WA, 13,per cent of murders involve guns, as well as 8 per cent of robberies.

But police believe a large amount of gun related crime goes unreported because it usually involves offences committed against other criminals.

The campaign runs for two weeks and calls can be anonymous.

Crime Stoppers number is 1800 333 000.

The West Australian

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