Canberra, June 16 (IANS) The Australian government will implement a three-month gun amnesty, starting from July 1, to prevent the use of guns in terrorist acts, Justice Minister Michael Keenan announced on Friday.
The amnesty will allow owners of illegal weapons to hand them in with “no questions asked, no repercussions”, reports Efe news.
“Clearly the fact (is) we’ve got a deteriorating national security environment, we’ve got an environment where there has been five terrorists attacks on our soil and sadly in the vast majority of those cases it has been an illegal firearm that’s been used,” Keenan said in a press conference.
Among those attacks, the minister noted the hostage-taking incident in a downtown Sydney cafe in 2014 where two civilians and the kidnapper were killed, and the murder of a city police station’s accountant by a 15-year-old minor in 2015.
After the amnesty period, the possession of illegal weapons will be penalised again with up to 14 years in prison and fines.
It is believed that that there are, unfortunately, about 260,000 un-registered firearms in the country, Keenan added.
This is the first national gun amnesty since the Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, which resulted in 35 people killed in 1996, prompting the purchase of almost 700,000 illegal weapons as part of the gun control laws enacted after the tragedy.
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.