SSAA NSW is cautious about the recently announced gun amnesty. Details are yet to be released, and as we all know the devil is often in the detail, so we’ll reserve our judgment until we know more. Interestingly, there is already a mechanism within NSW Legislation for law abiding firearms owners, and members of the community to hand in such firearms and have them registered if they are already, or are applying to become, licensed. So what is the amnesty going to achieve? In fact, we put forward a proposal almost two years ago for a mechanism that would simplify this process and in-effect be an ongoing amnesty.
But, the big question is ‘How will the amnesty address the issue of illegal firearms currently in the hands of criminals?’ Criminals by their very nature do not abide by the law, so how realistic is it for the Government, and the community, to expect that criminals will front up to their local firearms dealership or police station to hand in their ill-gotten firearms; firearms that have more than likely been used in the commission of crime? Governments, Federal as well as states and territories, need to get serious about tackling illegal firearms and the criminals that use them to commit their crimes. SSAA NSW has repeatedly stated publicly and in its representations that more funding needs to be dedicated to front line policing and border protection if they’re serious about tackling illegal firearms and gun crime.
From the reported comments, it appears that the amnesty will provide an opportunity for people to hand in firearms that have come into their possession through various means, including as the result of a death in the family. Let’s hope it includes an option for those people to legally register these firearms if they so choose. The amnesty also appears to be an opportunity for people in possession of firearms that are currently determined as illegal and unable to be registered to hand these over without fear of recrimination. We haven’t seen any mentions of a buy-back, it’s just an amnesty to surrender unwanted firearms without any compensation. We’ll keep you posted as we find out more.