Australia’s three-month national firearms amnesty has ended with more than 28,000 guns surrendered.
The amnesty, which ran from July 1 to September 30, 2017, allowed anyone with unwanted or unregistered firearms to legally register or drop them off without fear of being arrested or prosecuted.
In the first two months nearly 26,000 guns — more than 450 a day — were handed in. Total numbers are currently being finalised but are expected to exceed more than 30,000.
The amnesty closed days before the Las Vegas mass shooting, which is sure to reignite the debate on gun control in the United States.
Australia has some of the world’s strictest gun control laws, yet conservative estimates put the number of illegal firearms in Australia at 260,000.
This was Australia’s second national amnesty. The first occurred in 1996 after the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, in which 35 people were killed and 23 injured, which is still the nation’s worst shooting by a single gunman. At the time the federal government introduced a 12-month buyback scheme which cost $304 million and saw 650,000 firearms handed in. New laws outlawed ownership of semi-automatic rifles and semi-automatic shotguns, and required individuals to have “genuine reasons” to own or possess a firearm (personal protection does not qualify).
“Thanks to the strong leadership of [former prime minister] John Howard more than 20 years ago, Australia has some of the strictest gun control laws in the world, and we remain ever-vigilant to maintain them,” said prime minister Malcolm Turnbull on Tuesday morning.
Turnbull also addressed the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, saying, “We’ve just had a gun amnesty over three months, and in the first two months over 25,000 guns were handed in. So we will continue to do everything we can to keep guns, the kind that were used by this killer in Las Vegas, off the streets.”
In the 21 years since the Port Arthur Massacre, individual states and territories have held 28 amnesties (a permanent amnesty exists in Tasmania) with more than 1 million firearms surrendered.
The current counts available for the 2017 National Firearms Amnesty are, per region:
- Tasmania: 1,924
- Western Australia: 1,242
- Northern Territory: approx. 320
- New South Wales: 14,466 (as of 7 Sept)
- Queensland: 7,000 (as of 25 Aug)
- Victoria – 2,150 (as of 25 Aug)
- South Australia – 1,338 (as of 25 Aug)
- ACT – 264 (as of 25 Aug)
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