Some are calling it a bikie war; others a cultural change in the Sydney crime scene, one that features a new breed of gangster.

brought the total number of shootings in Sydney this year to 72. Fourteen of them have happened in the last month alone.

"You've got a war going in the streets of Sydney between different motorcycle gangs fighting over drugs and fighting over turf," Federal Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare, who represents the western Sydney seat of Blaxland, said in response to Monday night's killings.

New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione described the shootings as "a betrayal of what we hold to be important in Australia," but disagreed with the idea that the city's gangs are at war.

"If there is a war raging, it is half what it was a year ago," he said.

Speaking at the same press conference, Superintendent Scott Cook of the State Crime Command said: "I've got to put this to rest. There's a lot of shootings, and a lot of people engaged in organised crime activity, but not all of them are linked".

"Most of them are not linked. There is no war going on."

According to New South Wales Police, 21 of Sydney's shooting incidents this year were related to organised crime in the city.

The other 70 per cent of incidents were the result of disagreements, some very minor, settled in violent ways.

NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics show that despite the recent spate of shootings, gun crime was more prevalent in the late 1990s.

In 1997 there were 1,252 robberies with firearms in the state, and 231 assaults with firearms.

What has changed, say police, is the reckless nature of today’s gun crime.

According to Superintendent Cook, police have seen "a cultural change in respect of guns," with hoodlums increasingly adopting a "gangster approach".

Commissioner Scipione described a new breed of criminals who he said were "living the life of wannabe gangsters".

Both of Monday night's victims were known to police before the shootings. One of them, 18-year-old Bassil Hijazi, is believed to have had links to the Comancheros bikie gang. Hours before the shooting Hijazi reported to St George police station as part of bail conditions related to recent drug charges.

The contribution of illegal guns to the current crime wave is not in dispute. In 2012, 711 firearms were stolen in New South Wales. State police claim the biggest issue is not stolen guns but illegal gun imports, and urge the Federal Government to do more to tighten Customs and border security.

Mr Clare has argued for enhanced gun seizure laws in New South Wales.

"We need to give police more power to go in and seize the guns," he said.

"In South Australia they have these powers, they are called firearm prohibition orders, that give the power to randomly search criminals."

New South Wales Police reserved their strongest message in the wake of Monday night's shootings for the families and friends of people known to carry illegal guns, urging them to break the code of silence protecting the perpetrators.

"If you want to stop your loved ones, your friends, your family falling at the end of a gun, then make the call to police, and make that call as quickly as you can," police said.


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