Min­is­ters back na­tion­wide gun amnesty

Mercury (Hobart) - - NEWS - CLAIRE BICKERS Fed­eral Bureau Chief

GUN own­ers will be able to hand in their weapons — no ques­tions asked — from next year when Aus­tralia launches a na­tional con­tin­u­ous gun amnesty.

All states and ter­ri­to­ries yes­ter­day agreed to the firstever con­tin­u­ous na­tion­wide amnesty at a meet­ing of po­lice and emer­gency ser­vices min­is­ters in Ade­laide.

More than 57,000 weapons — in­clud­ing au­to­matic ri­fles, hand­guns and a rocket launcher — were handed in when Aus­tralia held just a three­month amnesty in 2017, the first since im­me­di­ately af­ter the Port Arthur mas­sacre.

Fed­eral As­sis­tant Min­is­ter for Com­mu­nity Safety Ja­son Wood said a con­tin­u­ous gun amnesty would get more weapons off the streets.

“It’s very im­por­tant to keep firearms out of the fam­ily home if they’re not used any­more, and to keep them out of the hands of crim­i­nals,” he said.

It’s an­tic­i­pated the ini­tia­tive will be launched in the sec­ond half of 2020, but de­tails of how it will work are still to be con­firmed.

It comes af­ter Mr Wood an­nounced at the week­end Aus­tralia would ban the im­port of bump stock de­vices, which can turn a semi­au­to­matic weapon into a fully au­to­matic weapon.

Tas­ma­nia al­ready has a per­ma­nent gun amnesty, which means any un­reg­is­tered or un­wanted firearms can be sur­ren­dered to po­lice or firearms deal­ers with­out the own­ers fac­ing penal­ties for pos­ses­sion.

Ho­bart-based Gun Con­trol Aus­tralia vice pres­i­dent Roland Browne said re­forms to gun stor­age and li­cenc­ing laws needed to be made, along with the na­tion­wide amnesty.

“An amnesty is an ac­cept­able pol­icy re­sponse to re­move un­wanted guns out of the com­mu­nity, but it’s no sub­sti­tute for strong gun con­trol pol­icy,” he said.

Tougher stor­age laws were needed to stop gun theft, while li­cenc­ing changes were needed to stop in­di­vid­u­als be­ing able to store large num­bers of guns in ur­ban homes. He knew of in­di­vid­u­als that had more than 100 guns stored at home.

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