A nationwide firearms amnesty will commence on July 1 across the country, with most jurisdictions allowing people to register, sell or hand in firearms to participating dealers or police stations. While it is unlikely to affect SSAA members, nor will it entice criminals to hand in their illegal wares, the following information is a guide to assist those who may wish to participate in the amnesty.
Most states and territories have adopted the Queensland amnesty model, which the SSAA successfully lobbied the Federal Government for as part of the review into the National Firearms Agreement (NFA). This means that anyone who has an unregistered firearm may be able to register or sell it through a dealer. Those who do not or cannot register or sell the firearm can hand it in at approved locations, including dealers, which the SSAA also pushed for.
SSAA National President Geoff Jones and CEO Tim Bannister were interviewed about the amnesty by the ABC in June. Tim encouraged people to register or sell their unregistered firearms through licensed firearm dealers, while Geoff made it clear that it won’t make criminals hand in their illegal guns. Both interviews can be streamed online.
The amnesty will end in most states on September 30, 2017.
Australian Capital Territory
The nation’s capital will allow firearms to be registered or sold as part of the amnesty, providing they are legal and the person wishing to register it has a firearms licence. Those wishing to sell firearms must speak to the Policing Firearms Registry about this before going to a dealer. Unlicensed people may apply for a licence and go through the permit to acquire process, but no fees will be waived.
Firearms that cannot or will not be sold or registered must be given directly to the registry, which will then be destroyed or donated to the Australian Federal Police armoury library or the Australian War Memorial. No dealers will accept firearms; all items must be taken in the first instance to the police.
New South Wales
New South Wales will allow free registration of legal firearms as part of the amnesty, although dealers may charge an administration fee. Unwanted firearms can be sold through a participating dealer. Firearms that cannot be registered or sold will be destroyed, but can still be handed in to a dealer.
All firearms, firearm parts, ammunition and prohibited weapons can be handed in to participating dealers and police stations during the amnesty, but those surrendering to police must make an appointment prior to attending the police station.
In addition to the amnesty, NSW is holding a Commercial Explosives Amnesty that commenced on March 15 this year and will conclude on September 14, 2017. Explosives and related hazardous materials can be handed in but those wishing to do so must contact the police station first. Police have warned against transporting explosives.
The Northern Territory will allow firearms, ammunition, parts, body armour and prohibited weapons to be handed in to dealers or police stations. Those wishing to register a legal item can do so with the cost of the permit to acquire waived during the amnesty.
If the surrendered firearm is capable of being registered, it may be sold to a third party who is able to meet the licensing requirements. However, the firearm needs to be surrendered to police in the first instance. Police will consider the significance or historical value of items flagged for destruction, which may then be donated to museums or police firearms reference libraries.
Any weaponry items can be surrendered during the amnesty in Queensland, including firearms, crossbows, knifes, vests and ammunition, with the police encouraging people to hand in articles for registration, sale or destruction to a dealer, rather than a police station.
Unregistered firearms can be registered or sold during the amnesty. For those registering a firearm to a current licence holder during the amnesty, the permit to acquire fee will be waived. Those who apply for a new licence during the amnesty will not have to apply for a permit to acquire or pay the standard fee. Items that are surrendered will be destroyed.
During the amnesty in South Australia, firearms, firearm parts or ammunition may be surrendered to police or participating dealers. Licence holders can have unregistered firearms added to existing licenses through a dealer. Registration fees will be waived during the amnesty.
Unlicensed people may hand in a firearm to a participating licensed dealer, with the firearm only able to be registered if it is an heirloom or historically significant, as determined by the registrar. Sales of firearms are only allowed for those who hold a firearms licence at the time of handing it in. Unlicensed people must hand the firearm in to a dealer or police station where it will be sent for destruction.
Along with firearms, items that can be surrendered for destruction in Tasmania include crossbows, specialty knives with various others considered. For firearms, those who already have a licence for the same category of firearm may apply for a permit to acquire. Those who do not currently possess a licence will have to apply for one and go through the process in order to register the firearm.
No fees will be waived during the amnesty. Firearms can be sold, but only if the firearm is a registrable item with the sale conducted through a dealer. Unwanted firearms will be destroyed, unless they are of an investigative or historical value.
In order to register firearms as part of the amnesty in Victoria, a firearms licence and the permit to acquire process is required. Licence holders still need to apply and pay for a permit to acquire, while those who do not hold a licence will not be able to sell articles until obtaining a licence. Current licence holders will be able to sell items to or via an approved dealer.
Dealers will accept surrendered items that cannot be registered or sold, which will then be handed to police for destruction. Usual considerations regarding the sale of firearms resulting from deceased estates will remain in place.
Along with firearms and firearms-related articles, home-made pieces, prohibited weapons and imitation firearms can be handed in to dealers. No items should be surrendered to police stations. Victoria will not accept fireworks or explosive materials as part of the amnesty. To dispose of these items, contact WorkSafe on 1800 136 089.
Licence holders in Western Australia can register articles during the amnesty as long as the items are serviceable, capable of being licensed and in good working order. Articles suspected of being unlawfully obtained, used in contravention of the Firearms Act or used in the commission of a crime cannot be registered.
Non-licensed people can still hand in articles at a police station and apply for a licence to register them. Everyone must apply for a permit to convey the firearm. No fees will be waived. Only firearms and firearm-related articles can be surrendered during the amnesty.
If the surrendered firearm is able to be registered, it may be sold to a third party who has or is capable of obtaining a firearms licence. The firearm will need to be surrendered to police in the first instance. Any articles handed in and not relicensed will be destroyed, although consideration will be given to donating historical items to museums or police firearms reference libraries.