Guns surrendered across central Victoria

More than 150 guns have been surrendered in Bendigo, six weeks into the National Firearms Amnesty.

Old air rifles, single-barrel shotguns, rimfire rifles and centrefire rifles are among the firearms being handed in, with most belonging to a past relative and have been left in the shed.

The amnesty started at the beginning of July and runs until the end of September. Anyone can surrender unregistered and unwanted firearms, ammunition and weapons to licensed firearms dealers during the period without fear of prosecution.

Hartley's Hunting & Fishing in California Gully has seen about 50 guns handed in, with a few interesting pieces among the mix, including an M1 carbine from the 1960s.

Two surrendered lugers have already been sold on by the business but many old handguns remain, including old miners’ pistols and some from the 19th century.

Owners can choose to register and keep the gun if they are appropriately licensed and allowed to own the firearm; or they can be sold or destroyed.

Hando Sports And Water owner Bruce Hando said if a firearm had any value or was still in good condition, and the person wanted to keep it, they could, provided they were appropriately licensed.

“We’ve just got to get it registered,” he said.

“It’s not the criminals that are going to hand the guns in, it’s the honest people who have guns that are unregistered.”

The St Arnaud business has so far seen about 20 guns handed in, but nothing with any great significance.

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About 100 guns have been surrendered to Bendigo business Smiths Outdoors and owner Matt Smith said it was great to see the firearms handed in.

“It’s all potentially dangerous and if it’s still in the shed and goes missing, it could end up in a police officer’s face at a breath test,” he said.

Police have echoed similar sentiments, with Superintendent Darren Franks saying at the beginning of August the amnesty would help with firearm thefts.

“Any of those guns that people don’t want tend not to be locked away properly or if they are, they’re a firearm not being used and can potentially be stolen,” he said. 

Across the state, 751 firearms had been surrendered by the end of July. In addition, a number of other items have been surrendered including swords, a crossbow, ammunition and imitation firearms.

Licensing and regulation division Superintendent Paul Millett said it was 751 fewer firearms that would otherwise be at greater risk of ending up in the wrong hands.

“We have seen a good response to the amnesty so far,” he said.

“Every unwanted or unregistered firearm or weapon that we can destroy or register is another step towards a safer Victoria.”

Maryborough business Golden Flash Cartridges has has 18 firearms surrendered so far and owner Mary Woodlock said she had no idea what to expect going into the amnesty.

“The more that come in the better,” she said.

She encouraged anyone thinking about surrendering a firearm to “just come in, that’s no problem”.

Anyone surrendering firearms, weapons or ammunition during the amnesty should surrender to a licensed firearms dealer and not to local police.

For more details, visit firearmsamnesty.ag.gov.au, call the firearms amnesty national hotline on 1800 909 826​ or locate a drop-off point on the Victoria Police website.