South Australia’s firearms dealers have been offered the opportunity to play a crucial role in a scheme being implemented by the state’s Minister for Police Tony Piccolo. On September 23, South Australia Police (SAPOL) announced a general firearms amnesty to operate throughout the state from December 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016. The aim of the campaign is to reduce the number of unwanted, unregistered and illegal firearms within the community.
Now SAPOL has taken things one step further by outlining how people can surrender surplus firearms during this period and is hoping that licensed dealers and outlets will be at the forefront of activities. Before the amnesty begins, SAPOL will provide participating firearms dealers with detailed and wide-ranging directives about how the initiative will proceed.
The most obvious way for members of the public to surrender unwanted firearms will be to deposit them at a police station. However, SAPOL will also endeavour to work with firearms dealers as a further means of ensuring the amnesty goes ahead smoothly.
Initially, SAPOL would like to bring on board dealers who nominate to participate in the amnesty. The dealer must hold an unrestricted firearms dealer licence and conduct a self-audit, confirming the suitability of their premises and practices to safely and effectively engage in the amnesty.
During the amnesty participating dealers will have various entitlements to fulfil their cooperation. These include:
- accepting the surrender of firearms on behalf of SAPOL;
- holding surrendered firearms for safekeeping while registration procedures are undertaken by the person involved;
- assisting holders of a firearms licence to register a firearm that the person has surrendered; and
- purchasing surrendered items from holders of a firearms licence.
SSAA South Australia President David Handyside welcomed the go-ahead for the amnesty. “As a group, the SSAA has been working with SAPOL to bring in something like this for about 18 months,” he said. “We have been advocating for this based on the Queensland firearms model. The revamping of the state Firearms Act has accelerated the whole business.”
Mr Handyside was sure that involving the firearms dealers would further facilitate a successful passage for the amnesty. “As far as the actual mechanics of the scheme go, we are very pleased with the outcome,” he said. “It means that registered people dealing with firearms will be able to handle their handing in.”
Any dealers who wish to lend a hand with the amnesty and feel their credentials tally with the qualifications required can register their interest with SAPOL. To register, simply email your details to the South Australia Police Firearms Branch before the close of business on November 20, 2015. Registrations can then be assessed, with confirmation of participation, or otherwise, relayed in due course.
UPDATE: On June 23, 2016, South Australia Police announced an extension of the 2015 general firearms amnesty until 31 December, 2016.