National Firearms Amnesty draws to a close

SURRENDERED: Some of the guns that were handed to Hartley's Hunting & Fishing during the firearm amnesty. Picture: NONI HYETT
SURRENDERED: Some of the guns that were handed to Hartley's Hunting & Fishing during the firearm amnesty. Picture: NONI HYETT

Thousands of firearms have been handed in across the state as part of the National Firearms Amnesty.

The amnesty, which ran during the three months from July to the end of September, saw unregistered or unwanted firearms, ammunition and weapons surrendered to licensed firearms dealers without fear of prosecution.

Between 250 and 300 firearms were taken into Smiths Outdoors in East Bendigo during the amnesty and owner Matt Smith said about half were registered and given back to their appropriately licensed owners. 

About 130 of the firearms were taken to Melbourne last week and crushed.

“We had a lot of older people bringing stuff in,” Mr Smith said. “They’ve had it in the cupboard and were scared and didn't know what to do with it.”

Most of the firearms that were destroyed were air rifles, old .22s and old shotguns.

One interesting piece, Mr Smith said, was an old hand gun from the early 1900s, which was kept by the person’s grandmother behind the bar at the pub she owned.

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In Victoria, federal government figures show 3654 firearms were received during the amnesty, with more than 50,000 across the country.

Epsom-based Rhinosport Australia had 45 firearms handed in with the majority just junk, said owner Danny Ryan. 

“Thirty of them were air rifles, 10 were single-shot .22s off farms and rusted, and we also got a handful of shotguns,” he said.

“Some of the stuff looked like it had come out of the bottom of dams.”

Mr Ryan said the results were what was to be expected, along with the total in Victoria, but he questioned the high figure from New South Wales.

A total of 24,965 firearms were handed in in New South Wales, topping the nation, followed by 16,000 in Queensland. 

In South Australia, 2648 firearms were received during the amnesty, 1924 in Tasmania, 1242 in Western Australia, 709 in the Australian Capital Territory and 322 in the Northern Territory.

Among the firearms surrendered across the country were historic pre-1900 weapons and guns from both World Wars, modern semi-automatic firearms, a homemade machine gun and a rocket launcher. 

More unusual items included a sawn-off shotgun found at a local tip in 1995, a handgun used in the early 1900s for personal protection, a pistol small enough to fit in the palm of a hand, and a heavily modified Russian shotgun.

Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan encouraged people who still had an unregistered firearm, or who came into possession of one, to contact their local police station or firearm registry, even though the amnesty had finished.