Australia announces three-month gun amnesty to combat terrorism

National Firearms Amnesty starts on July 1

Australia to hold first nationwide gun amnesty for 21 years.

The National Firearms Amnesty will commence on July 1, giving Australians an opportunity to hand in unregistered and unwanted firearms and improve community safety.

This is the first nation-wide gun amnesty since 1996, when the Howard Government took decisive action following the devastation of the Port Arthur Massacre.

The program starts on July 1 and within three months – until September 30 – anyone who possesses an unwanted or unregistered firearm, or a firearm-related item such as ammunition, can legally dispose of or register their firearm at “approved drop-off points in each State and Territory”, without fear of being prosecuted, Justice Minister said.

During the three-month amnesty running from 1 July, people can hand in unregistered weapons without the fear of prosecution, the government says.

Those caught outside that period face fines of up to A$280,000 ($212,730; £166,480) or up to 14 years in prison.

It is estimated that there are as many as 260,000 illicit guns in Australia.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said illegal guns were used in recent terror attacks in Australia as well as for organised crime.

Keenan said the government hoped this national gun amnesty would bring the same successful results as state-based amnesty, which have led to the hand-in of thousands of un-registered weapons. “But the goal of this amnesty is to actually reduce the number of unregistered and illicit firearms in the community”, he added.

Australian authorities have been calling for an overarching policy for several years to combat the growing threat of terrorism in the country.

Last month, they said they were treating as a “terrorist incident” a siege in Melbourne in which a gunman was killed.

In 2014, a café in Sydney was held under siege by an armed hostage-taker, leaving two people dead.

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