Australians handed in 50,000 weapons in a gun amnesty that closed last week

Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Australia’s second national gun amnesty has led to the surrender of more than 50,000 guns.

The three month amnesty ended on Saturday, just 48 hours before the worst mass shooting in US history took place.

On average 543 firearms a day, were handed in by gun owners. These included guns from both World Wars and an antique revolver used to protect mailmen from bushrangers in the 1800s. Modern semi-automatic firearms, a homemade machine gun, a sawn-off shotgun found at a local tip and even a rocket launcher were also surrendered.

“This is an overwhelming response and represents a significant reduction in the number of unregistered firearms in the Australian community,” said federal justice Minister Michael Keenan. “Australia has some of the strongest gun laws in the world but illicit firearms remain a threat to community safety.”

In Australia, all firearms must be registered or people risk 14 years in jail and a $280,000 fine. Strict laws, and the nation’s first gun amnesty, were introduced after the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania. There are also limitations on the types of guns that can be purchased and the reasons for needing them — personal protection does not qualify.

This week’s Las Vegas mass shooting, in which saw a gunman kill 58 people before shooting himself, has reignited the debate on gun control in the United States. Some members of Congress and the National Rifle Association are now looking to support a ban on “bump stocks”, an after-market gun modification for semi-automatic rifles to increase the firing rate. The Las Vegas shooter had bump stocks on 12 guns found in the hotel room where he fired on a music concert crowd.

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