Own­ers drop guns Un­reg­is­tered firearms turn up at deal­ers un­der amnesty

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - JOHN AN­DER­SEN john. an­der­sen@ news. com. au

T O W N S V I L L E f i r e a r m s deal­ers have started tak­ing pos­ses­sion of un­reg­is­tered pis­tols and ri­fles be­ing handed in un­der the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment’s weapons amnesty.

The three- month grace pe­riod dur­ing which own­ers of un­reg­is­tered firearms can hand them in with­out pros­e­cu­tion is the first national amnesty since the one sparked by the Port Arthur mas­sacre in 1996. The lat­est amnesty, which be­gan on July 1, will run un­til Septem­ber 30.

Fed­eral Jus­tice Min­is­ter Michael Keenan an­nounced the “no ques­tions asked” amnesty amid grow­ing con­cern about il­le­gal weapons flow­ing into Aus­tralia from over­seas and the ris­ing threat of ter­ror.

The Gov­ern­ment be­lieves there are as many as 260,000 il­le­gal firearms in Aus­tralia.

In Townsville, own­ers of un­reg­is­tered pis­tols and ri­fles have a se­lec­tion of seven li­censed firearm deal­ers where they can hand in weapons.

Joanne El­liott, from Townsville Gun Shop, said five firearms had been handed in since the start of the amnesty on Satur­day.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive from Halls Firearms on Charters Tow­ers Rd said two firearms had been handed in.

In Win­ton, men’s cloth­ing out­fit­ter and firearms dealer Bernie Searle has had two ri­fles brought in. He said the first was a Brno .22 ri­fle with five- shot mag­a­zine.

“It could do with a good clean,” Mr Searle said of the early model Cze­choslo­vakian- made ri­fle which first came on the mar­ket in 1956.

“If they want it reg­is­tered I’ll hold it here un­til the pa­per­work is done. If they don’t want it we cut it up with a drop saw,” he said.

Ms El­liott said that un­der the amnesty guide­lines own­ers could ap­ply for a li­cence while the firearm in ques­tion was held in a se­cure place by an ac­cred­ited dealer. “If they don’t want it we can on- sell it or it can be broken up and ren­dered use­less,” she said.

For­mer Townsville sad­dler and Kirwan res­i­dent Ge­off Tar­ring is sec­re­tary of the Queens­land branch of the Sport­ing Shooter’s As­so­ci­a­tion of Aus­tralia.

He said the amnesty was “a good thing” but added it was de­bat­able that it would do any­thing to keep firearms out of the hands of crim­i­nals.

“It is il­le­gal firearms com­ing in from over­seas that we ( as an or­gan­i­sa­tion) are most con­cerned about,” he said.

In­spec­tor An­drew Smith, from the Queens­land Po­lice Ser­vice Firearms Amnesty Unit, said peo­ple were al­lowed to sur­ren­der weapons to po­lice sta­tions, but it was pre­ferred they go to deal­ers.

“We ask that you make con­tact be­fore bring­ing a weapon to a po­lice sta­tion or a dealer and that you make an ap­point­ment,” he said.

Insp Smith said un­der the amnesty guide­lines firearms brought in could be reg­is­tered for free. The last Queens­land firearm amnesty in 2013 net­ted 22,200 un­reg­is­tered weapons. Queens­land with a pop­u­la­tion of 4.7 mil­lion peo­ple had 190,000 reg­is­tered firearms, he said.

“So far this national amnesty is look­ing very promis­ing even though it is early days,” he said.

Any­one want­ing in­for­ma­tion about the amnesty should phone 1800 909 826.

Pic­ture: EVAN MOR­GAN

OUT OF SIGHT: Win­ton’s Bernie Searle with a ri­fle handed in dur­ing the national gun amnesty.

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