Arts, Culture & Media

Why Australians handed in 26,000 guns to the government

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A kangeroo hunter at work, using a licensed weapon. Australia's gun culture has changed in recent years.

Credit:

David Gray/Reuters

Since the start of July, Australian citizens have handed over more than 26,000 illegally held firearms to police, as part of a historic gun amnesty.

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Under the amnesty, normal penalties for holding an unlicensed weapons are waived, as part of an effort to reduce the pool of weapons available to criminals.

Once the amnesty expires at the end of September, fines of up to $225,000 or a maximum jail term of 14 years in prison will apply.

The authorities have collected a wide range of weapons so far. As Matt Young reported for the news site, news.com.au, the surrendered firearms have included a Beaumont-Adams revolver from the 1850s, a World War I-era Lee-Enfield rifle and even a homemade submachine gun.

The policy was prompted by an official report into a 2014 terrorism attack in Sydney. The report found that the terrorist had used an illegally held shotgun brought into Australia during the 1950s. Police believe there may be as many as 260,000 more unregistered weapons still at large in the country.

According to Young, the amnesty has been popular. "All the states and territories have welcomed this, [and] the general public support like to see this happening. We don't have as much of a gun culture as in the United States."

You can listen to Matt Young describe more about Australia's gun policies on The World in the audio segment above.