The federal government gave citizens the opportunity to hand in unregistered or unwanted guns without fear of prosecution, and 28,000 were surrendered between July 1 and September 30.

By Joe McDonough


Posted on October 3, 2017

As pleas for tighter gun control laws in the US grow louder, Australia recently completed a three-month national firearm amnesty.

The federal government gave citizens the opportunity to hand in unregistered or unwanted guns without fear of prosecution, and 28,000 were surrendered between July 1 and September 30. New South Wales was the major contributor with close to 15,000 weapons being seized.

It reinforces the anti-firearm attitude Australia adopted after the Port Arthur Massacre in 1996, where Martin Bryant fatally shot 35 people in the Tasmanian town. At that time the John Howard-led government introduced the National Firearms Agreement prohibiting semiautomatic and automatic weapons, as well as a buy-back scheme to sweeten the offer. There have been 28 amnesties in the individual states and territories since, and Tasmania has a permanent amnesty in place.

Sunday’s Las Vegas massacre has ignited debate over the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told the Seven Network, the US could learn from Australia’s experience, but it would ultimately be up to them. “At the end of the day it’s going to be up to the United States legislators and law makers, and the United States public, to change the laws to ensure this type of incident doesn’t happen again,” she said.

Former Foreign Minister Bob Carr didn’t hold back, saying, “Condolences to US but every Republican enjoys endorsement of NRA and living with mass shootings is a political choice.”

Twitter hashtag #guncontrolnow is currently trending, and people have been quick to point out the discrepancy between gun-related homicides in the US compared to Australia, the UK and Canada.

President Donald Trump has so far remained silent on gun control, only referring to the massacre as an “act of pure evil”. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders would only say, “there will certainly be a time for that policy discussion to take place, but that’s not the place that we’re in at this moment”.