Australia to hold nationwide gun amnesty amid terror fears

Government Takes Aim At Illegal Firearms With First Gun Amnesty In 20 Years

Government Takes Aim At Illegal Firearms With First Gun Amnesty In 20 Years

Australia will have its first national gun amnesty since the Port Arthur massacre in a bid to stop terrorists getting their hands on the nation's 260,000 illegal weapons.

Australia's has some of the world's toughest gun control laws, introduced after the country's worst mass murder, when a gunman killed 35 people at Port Arthur in the island state of Tasmania in 1996.

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

"The fact [is] we've got a deteriorating national security environment", Mr Keenan told ABC radio.

The Courier Mail reported, however, that there's an estimated 260,000 illegal firearms now circulating in Australia, with the "darknet" and efficient global freight systems making it increasingly easy for Australians to buy guns in the USA and import them into Australia.

An estimation of 260,000 illicit guns are now in Australia according to various reports.

He urged Australians to take the opportunity to help remove unregistered firearms from the community.

Keenan said illegal guns were used in the Lindt café siege in Sydney in 2014 and the death of police accountant Curtis Cheng in Parramatta in 2015, and by underworld crime figures.

"Clearly that makes this top of mind and why we want to make sure we clear as many illegal firearms from the community as possible", he told the national broadcaster, ahead of announcing further details of the amnesty today.

"Sadly, as recent events have shown us, just one gun in the wrong hands can be deadly".

While it is unlikely to be of the same scale as the earlier buyback, which ran from October 1996 to September 1997, due to the lack of financial compensation, there is no doubt a significant number of guns will be taken off the streets between now and the end of September. Military-style, semi-automatic assault rifles continue to be banned from public ownership.

Australian police talk outside a bar as they investigate whether live firearms were used in the filming of a music video during which an actor was fatally wounded in the chest in Brisbane January 23, 2017.

Most illegal guns in Australia were legally owned before 1996, when guns did not have to be registered.

However, those who will be caught outside that grace period will immediately face fines that can reach up to a total of A$280,000 ($212,730; £166,480) or up to 14 years sentence in prison.

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