Local gun owners respond to three month gun amnesty

No charge: Sgt Tim Mowle with a handful of the weapons surrendered to Inverell Police under the amnesty. Photo Heidi Gibson
No charge: Sgt Tim Mowle with a handful of the weapons surrendered to Inverell Police under the amnesty. Photo Heidi Gibson

Thirty-five firearms have been surrendered to police in the Inverell area since a national firearms amnesty was declared on July 1.

Inverell Police Acting Inspector Ross Chilcott said the majority of weapons were rifles and had included some firearms that were registered but unwanted.

He said police were pleased that the guns no longer being ‘out in the community” and described none of the weapons handed in so far were “out of the ordinary”.

The Australian government says the three month amnesty will allow anyone with unwanted and unregistered firearms or firearm-related items, to legally dispose of or register them at approved drop-off points. Around Inverell that includes the police station in town as well those in Tingha, Bundarra and Ashford.

While a firearm handed into the police will be destroyed, there is also the choice of taking a weapon to a licensed gun shop where an owner can then go through the process of getting it registered. 

“I just encourage people who have unregistered firearms to hand them in during the amnesty or get them registered while they have the opportunity to avoid legal action,” A/Inspector Chilcott said. 

Outside the amnesty period, which ends on September 30, anyone caught with an unregistered firearm could face a fine of up to $280,000, up to 14 years in jail, and a criminal record.

The maximum penalty for possessing three or more unregistered guns is 10 years in prison but that jumps to 20 years if one or more of the guns is a prohibited firearm or a pistol.

From 2010-2015 the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found that Inverell residents owned an estimated 6,994 registered guns. That meant the district had the third-highest gun ownership rate in the region following Tamworth (14,542 registered guns) and Armidale (7,234 registered guns). The figures also showed there was a 21 percent increase in gun ownership in Inverell during the same period.

More information about the gun amnesty is available via the National Firearms Amnesty website or by calling 1800 909 826.