Almost 60 per cent of firearms handed in during the national amnesty have since been registered and are now in the possession of licensed shooters. A federal government report into the three-month amnesty, which ran from July 1 to September 30 last year, also revealed that the vast majority of the 57,324 firearms recovered were rifles.
The report, released by the Department of Home Affairs on March 1, showed that 2417 self-loading and 80 automatic firearms were handed in during the amnesty, counting 10 machine-guns in South Australia and a Spandau MG08 machine-gun in New South Wales. Interestingly, 154 firearms were identified as stolen, including a Brno CZ 527 rifle that was taken from a Tasmanian home more than 20 years ago. It has since been returned to its rightful owner.
A homemade machine-gun contained in a briefcase was among the stranger items submitted in South Australia, while a Buffalo Arms M1919A4 Browning machine-gun was said to have been found in a Western Australia cave. Making headlines was the discovery of an inoperable rocket launcher in Queensland, allegedly found at a rubbish dump. Along with firearms, firearm parts such as sound moderators, magazines, stocks, barrels and around 80,000 rounds of ammunition were collected.
For legitimate shooters, the nationwide amnesty provided the chance to sell or register firearms. The promise to consider the sentimental or historical value of firearms, instead of simply sending them to the scrapheap, led to the recovery of a number of significant pieces. Pleasingly, a Russian PPSH submachine-gun has since been donated to a Victorian RSL; a Swiss Army issue revolver, two swords and a uniform to a local museum; and a German Maxim machine-gun to the Australian War Memorial.
In a refreshing change of rhetoric, Law Enforcement Minister Angus Taylor, the new Minister responsible for federal firearm matters, acknowledged that firearms could be registered as part of the amnesty, instead of simply destroyed. The SSAA lobbied the former Justice Minister Michael Keenan to include gun dealers as hand-in locations as part of the amnesty. However, we noted that it is unlikely that criminals would hand in their illegal wares.
While the national amnesty has concluded, some states and territories do run ongoing amnesties. To find out the situation in your area, visit https://ssaa.org.au/licensing/.