By Shelby Brooks
A permanent national firearms amnesty began Thursday 1 July, as the Australian Government and Crime Stoppers partner to keep Australians safe while ensuring those with a legitimate need to access firearms are able to do so.
The launch of the amnesty allows anyone in Australia to hand in unregistered or unwanted firearms that could otherwise fall into the wrong hands.
Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs and La Trobe MP Jason Wood said unregistered firearms were a threat to the community.
“They are difficult to trace and can fall into the hands of criminals to commit terrible crimes while avoiding police detection,” he said.
“An unwanted firearm can also be deadly. If not properly stored, there is always a risk that it could harm you or your loved ones.”
People who have an unregistered firearm or firearm-related item will be able to surrender it to a police station anonymously and without penalty, for registration, sale or destruction.
Licensed firearms dealers can also receive surrendered firearms in most states and territories. An unwanted firearm may also be handed in.
“If you have an unregistered firearm and you want to keep it, hand it in and see if you can register it. If you don’t want to keep your firearm, hand it in. Your community will thank you,” Mr Wood said.
If a person does not surrender an unregistered firearm and is found in possession of it, they may face criminal penalties, including imprisonment.
To support the commencement of the amnesty, Crime Stoppers has launched a National Illicit Firearms Campaign.
In coming months, Crime Stoppers will deliver 65 grassroots community events across the nation to encourage people to do the right thing and hand in unwanted or unregistered firearms.
“There are more than 26 million Australians who place the highest value on living in a safe community, and thousands of law-abiding people with registered firearms that they use for their work or hobby. Sadly it is the minority who use firearms to threaten and injure others, and it is important to limit the opportunity for these criminals to access and use firearms,” Diana Forrester, chair of Crime Stoppers Australia said.
“All of us have seen the harm that is caused by the unlawful use of a firearm and the impact on community confidence that often follows, which is why we all have a part to play in making our community safer – that’s our aim.”
The previous national firearms amnesty, which was held over a period of only three months in 2017, was incredibly successful and resulted in over 57,000 firearms being handed in across Australia.
Further information, including the process to surrender a firearm in each state or territory, is available at crimestoppers.com.au/firearmsamnesty.