Sydney – Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Friday said Australians handed in 51,000 guns during a 3-month amnesty, though he rejected calls to extend it following the weekend’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.
“I am not suggesting we won’t have gun amnesties in the future, but this one has been very effective because it has, as I said, a beginning, middle and an end.
“Every single one of those 51,000 guns could have been used in a crime where Australians could be killed. Now they can’t,’’ he told newsmen in Sydney.
The amnesty, from July 1 to Sept. 30, was the first since a gun buy-back scheme following the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, in which a lone gunman killed 35 people over a two-day period.
Following the killings, then Prime Minister John Howard enacted tough gun ownership laws, including fines for unregistered firearms of up to 280,000 dollars (210,000 dollars) or up to 14 years in jail.
Australia now has some of the strictest and most effective gun laws in the world, but authorities had warned before the amnesty that there were an estimated quarter of a million illegal firearms, including automatic weapons, in circulation.
“The firearms surrendered in the amnesty ranged from historic pre-1900 weapons and guns.
“All from both World Wars to modern semi-automatic firearms, a homemade machine gun and even a rocket launcher,’’ a statement from the prime minister’s office said.
Illegal guns have been used in several terrorist attacks in Australia in recent years, including the 17-hour-long Lindt Cafe siege in Sydney in 2014.
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