Australians surrender 57,000 firearms in three-month gun amnesty

Mick Roelandts, firearms reform project manager for the New South Wales Police, looks at a pile of around 4,500 prohibited firearms that have been handed in over the past month under the Australian government's buy-back scheme in Sydney, Australia, July 28, 2017. REUTERS/David Gray/File photo

The Australian government has collected over 57,000 firearms during a three-month gun amnesty that allowed citizens to surrender any unregistered weapon with no consequences.

The final tally of surrendered weapons was released this week, revealing that a total of 57,324 firearms were turned in by Australians during the amnesty period between July and September.

The surrendered weapons included 2,500 fully-automatic or semi-automatic guns, as well as 2,900 handguns. Along with the weapons, more than 80,000 rounds of ammunition, as well as 2,432 parts and accessories were also surrendered during the amnesty.

The most number of firearms were surrendered in New South Wales, with 24,831 weapons, followed by Queensland and Victoria. Around one-third of the surrendered weapons were destroyed, while the rest were either registered and returned to their owners or taken to licensed dealers for resale.

The amnesty is Australia’s first one since strict gun laws were implemented by the nation in 1996.

“Taking these unregistered firearms off the streets means they will not fall into the hands of criminals, who might use them to endanger the lives of innocent Australians,” Angus Taylor, Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security, said in a statement.

Taylor also emphasized the importance of taking the weapons off the “grey market” so that they do not end up in the black market. Authorities consider the “grey market” to be made up of gun owners who do not have criminal intent, but whose weapons could easily end up in the black market and in the hands of criminals.

Australia’s tough gun control policies have been held up as an example for the United States following the streak of public shootings by suspects who were able to obtain high caliber weapons legally.

However, Taylor stopped short on commenting if other countries should emulate Australia’s gun policies. “I’m not going to give advice to other countries,” he said. “This is working for us.”