The opportunity Australia’s permanent firearms amnesty provides to register items not surrendered in the 1996 nationwide registration of firearms is being squandered. While illegal and disappointing, the reality is there are firearms in Australia classed as being on the ‘grey market’ as they weren’t registered as required by the 1996 National Firearms Agreement (NFA).
These firearms – which are often not owned or used for criminal purposes – can be surrendered without question and, if eligible, can be registered under this new program. The removal of consequence and ability to register these firearms means if an item was ever the subject of theft and subsequent criminal act, it would be traceable. Surely this is the intended outcome of including registration as an option in the amnesty program?
Instead, media reports marking the first month of the amnesty are perpetuating fearmongering around firearms threatening public safety and being used illegally, ignoring crime statistics which prove otherwise. Messages around ‘taking guns off the streets’ and the ‘threat of unwanted, unregistered and illicit firearms in our communities’ feature heavily.
The Federal Department of Home Affairs says more than 1000 firearms were surrendered in July but the Commonwealth doesn’t have firm figures, including information on what type of firearms and how many are handed in or registered. This is because states and territories have both police and firearms dealers participating in the amnesty process and Australia’s firearms laws, regulations and registries operate independently of each other.
The department reports Australians have surrendered a wide range of firearms including replicas, shotguns, gel-blasters, rifles, pistols, fully automatics and even a flamethrower. The Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA) works with the government and relevant authorities to advocate for and protect the future of our chosen sport and pastime. Firearms owners are some of the most heavily regulated people in society and we require all SSAA members to adhere to our Code of Conduct.
The Federal Government partnered with Crime Stoppers Australia to launch the amnesty starting in July this year. For more information, including the process to surrender a firearm for sale, destruction or registration, visit www.crimestoppers.com.au/firearmamnesty