Firearms amnesty: Australian gun owners given three-months grace to surrender illegal firearms

File Photo: Australians are encouraged to hand in unwanted and unregistered firearms.
File Photo: Australians are encouraged to hand in unwanted and unregistered firearms.

For three months, until September 30, anyone with unwanted and unregistered firearms or firearm-related items can legally dispose of or register them at approved drop-off points including the NSW police stations at Inverell, Tingha, Bundarra and Ashford. 

There is no cost involved with handing in firearms for destruction. 

The federal government announced the plan on Friday, in a bid to reduce the pool of illegal firearms in Australia and tackle the increased threat of terrorism. The amnesty will begin on July 1.

The amnesty allows people with an estimated 260,000 undeclared guns in Australia the chance to surrender them without prosecution, and the weapons would not be tested or checked with previous crimes.

This will allow for unlicensed firearms to be removed from general circulation as holders surrender their undeclared guns. 

“In the past with previous amnesties, we have seen a significant number of unregistered firearms surrendered, and that is something we expect to happen again,” Oxley Acting Inspector Graeme Elms told Fairfax Media.

"This is an opportunity for people to present the guns to authorities, no questions asked and with no penalty," Justice Minister Michael Keenan said on Friday.

Guns in Inverell

The Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found an estimated 6,994 registered guns owned by residents of Inverell in its figures for 2010-2015. 

Inverell was found to have the third-highest gun ownership rate following Tamworth (14,542 registered guns) and Armidale (7,234 registered guns). 

Glen Innes followed Armidale with 4,185 registered guns, followed by Guyra (3,140 registered guns), Warialda (1,192 guns), Bingara (1,239 guns), Narrabri (4,087 guns), Moree (4,072 guns), Quirindi (2,637 guns) and Uralla (2,700 guns).

The figures also showed a 21 percent increase in gun ownership in Inverell from 2010 to 2015. Warialda saw the second biggest spike in the region with firearms jumping up 20.6 percent, while Moree had a 16.9 percent spike.

How to use the amnesty

Those with unregistered firearms can surrender them to a dealer for sale.

Outside the amnesty period, anyone caught with an unregistered firearm could face a fine of up to $280,000, up to 14 years in jail, and a criminal record. 

The maximum penalty for possessing three or more unregistered guns is 10 years in prison but that jumps to 20 years if one or more of the guns is a prohibited firearm or a pistol.

More information about how and where to surrender firearms is available on the National Firearms Amnesty website or by calling 1800 909 826. 

This story Surrender guns, or else... first appeared on The Inverell Times.