AS debate rages in the United States over gun control, Australia has successfully completed a national gun amnesty resulting in the surrender of almost 60,000 illegal weapons.
World War-era weapons, automatic rifles and a rocket launcher were among the 57,324 firearms handed in during the National Gun Amnesty 2017, which ran between July and September last year. An average of 630 guns were handed in to the government each day, reported 9 News.
During the amnesty period, “anyone with unwanted and unregistered firearms or firearm-related items can legally dispose of or register them at approved drop-off points in each state and territory,” said the Justice Ministry at the time.
Citizens were allowed to register, sell or have items destroyed. Around a third were destroyed, with the remaining firearms either registered and returned to owners, or passed on to licenced gun dealers for resale.
The ruling Liberal Party said in a statement that “a number of more unusual items were also handed in.”
“These included a sawn-off shotgun found at a local tip in 1995, a handgun used in the early 1900s for personal protection, a pistol small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, and a heavily modified Russian shotgun,” it said.
“I think it’s good to have those guns either registered or destroyed because we can then track them,” said Minister for Law Enforcement Angus Taylor this week, as quoted by ABC News. “We know they won’t end up in the wrong hands. We know that any transaction can be tracked.”
“It means we have even better firearm arrangements than we had [before] and we had some of the best firearm laws and regulations, we think, in the world,” he said.
Australia is reputed for its tough gun laws, however the latest gun amnesty was spurred by rising concern over the number of firearms in the country in light of the December 2014 Lindt Café siege in Sydney which left two hostages and the assailant dead.
The government said it was seeking to increase penalties for gun traffickers, including mandatory minimum sentences. It also suggested another gun amnesty may take place in future.