Explore The NRA Universe Of Websites

APPEARS IN News

Guns Trickle in to Australia Turn-in

Friday, August 11, 2017

Guns Trickle in to Australia Turn-in

U.S. policymakers, NRA-ILA, and even some of the most ardent anti-gun researchers, have long understood that gun turn-in programs do not hinder criminal violence. Despite the overwhelming evidence, the Land Down Under is currently in the midst of a National Firearms Amnesty program that aims to rid the country of its illegally possessed guns. Given the results so far, it appears unlikely the effort will make a meaningful dent in the country’s stock of illicit firearms. 

Australia’s turn-in is set to last through September 30. Thanks to the work of the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia (SSAA), in addition to handing guns over for destruction, the amnesty permits gun owners to register firearms that they are eligible to possess, or to sell them through a licensed dealer. In addition to firearms, states and territories are also accepting ammunition, crossbows, knives, and body armor (which typically requires a difficult to obtain license to use). 

The Australian Government’s messaging about the purpose of the amnesty has been convoluted. On the one hand, the government has used the specter of crime and terrorism to justify the turn-in. However, the government has admitted that individuals engaged in such activities are unlikely to relinquish their firearms. Justice Minister Michael Keenan admitted to the Australian Broadcasting Company in June that “it’s probably not going to be the case that we will have hardened criminals, for example, who have made a big effort to get ahold of illegal guns, will not necessarily be handing them in.” Instead, it is the government’s purported theory that diminishing the number of unregistered firearms among the law-abiding will somehow stop criminals and terrorists from accessing guns.

In this vein, the government’s National Firearms Amnesty propaganda is geared at the generally law-abiding.
Amnesty posters and pamphlets feature a man handing over a bolt-action rifle and warn that those who do not comply with Australia’s strict gun laws face up to $280,000 in fines and 14 years in prison. The choice of artwork is odd if the government’s goal is public safety, as a 2008 article from the Australian Institute of Criminology pointed out that Australia’s criminals, like those in other countries, favor handguns. 

In this vein, the government’s National Firearms Amnesty propaganda is geared at the generally law-abiding.

For their part, gun rights supporters have been skeptical of the program. In June, Liberal Democrat Senator from New South Wales David Leyonhjelm told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that “[the amnesty is] purely for appearance purposes. It won’t do anything to address guns on the street, they’ll end up with grandma’s rusty old shotgun or rifle. Which was never going to be used in crime in the first place.” Taking a similar position, SSAA stated that the amnesty is “unlikely to affect SSAA members, nor will it entice criminals to hand in their illegal wares.”

The limited anecdotal and statistical evidence from the current turn-in confirms Leyonhjelm and SSAA’s predictions.

According to Justice Minister Keenan, as of August 9, roughly 12,500 firearms had been brought to authorities throughout the country. While some in the Australian press have boasted about the haul, a closer look reveals little to cheer about. Estimates of the number of firearms illegally possessed in Australia range from 260,000 to 600,000. Moreover, sophisticated criminal networks have demonstrated the ability to smuggle large quantities of firearms into the country.

A breakdown of the firearms being turned over to state and territorial governments also does not bode well for the program’s efficacy. So far in Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, roughly 6,400 firearms have been brought to the authorities. Of those firearms surrendered, 2,160 were rifles or shotguns, while less than 200 were handguns. As noted earlier, just like in the U.S., Australia’s criminals favor handguns. On an encouraging note, the article indicates that the remainder of the 6,400 firearms were brought in for registration, and will continue to be owned by licensed firearms owners.

To the extent that the National Firearms Amnesty offers gun owners who wish to fully comply with Australia’s onerous gun laws the opportunity to register previously unregistered firearms, it is innocuous.

The anecdotal evidence also suggests that many of the firearms that have been turned over did not pose a threat to the community. An article from the ABC shared the story of licensed gun owner Alan Pursell who relinquished a forgotten shotgun he had discovered while moving. The piece went on to relay the comments of Tasmania Police Sergeant Phil Burton, who explained that “about a third of the people taking advantage of the amnesty had told police they inherited the gun or found it while administering a deceased estate.” An article from the Herald Sun was accompanied by a picture of several antique handguns turned over by what the writer termed “an old lady.”

To the extent that the National Firearms Amnesty offers gun owners who wish to fully comply with Australia’s onerous gun laws the opportunity to register previously unregistered firearms, it is innocuous. Of course, given Australia’s history of gun confiscation, one might understand why some Aussie shooters would be reluctant make the government aware of their arms. The pernicious aspect of this program is that it continues to perpetuate the myth that such turn-ins and the subsequent destruction of large quantities of firearms, provided overwhelmingly by otherwise law-abiding individuals, can have a meaningful impact on violent crime. All but the most obstinate anti-gun jurisdictions in the U.S. have recognized the flaws in this strategy and the remaining holdouts here and abroad would be wise to follow suit.

TRENDING NOW
NRA Scores Legal Victory Against ATF; “Pistol Brace Rule” Enjoined From Going Into Effect Against NRA Members

Monday, April 1, 2024

NRA Scores Legal Victory Against ATF; “Pistol Brace Rule” Enjoined From Going Into Effect Against NRA Members

NRA Members Among the Largest Class Protected from Draconian Rule

U.S. Supreme Court invalidates ATF Rule Classifying Bump Stocks as Machineguns

Friday, June 14, 2024

U.S. Supreme Court invalidates ATF Rule Classifying Bump Stocks as Machineguns

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives unlawfully exceeded its authority by classifying bump stocks as machineguns.

Fallout from Trudeau’s Gun Grab: Crime is Up, Number of Gun Ranges Drops

News  

Monday, June 17, 2024

Fallout from Trudeau’s Gun Grab: Crime is Up, Number of Gun Ranges Drops

In Canada, a ban on over 1,500 firearm makes, models and variants, together with a mandatory government confiscation (“buyback”) requirement, was imposed by Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over four years ago. 

NRA Files Amicus Brief with Ninth Circuit in Challenge to California’s Billy Club Ban

Friday, June 14, 2024

NRA Files Amicus Brief with Ninth Circuit in Challenge to California’s Billy Club Ban

Today, NRA filed an amicus brief with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in support of a challenge to California’s prohibition on the possession of billy clubs.

Still no Trace of the Truth

News  

Monday, June 17, 2024

Still no Trace of the Truth

In our first installment of a critical analysis of an anti-gun propaganda podcast series from The Trace, we covered the lies, misinformation, and deceptive emotional arguments made in the first four episodes. 

Biden Was Right on Veterans Before He was Wrong; Now Congress Tightens the Reins

Monday, June 10, 2024

Biden Was Right on Veterans Before He was Wrong; Now Congress Tightens the Reins

In March, we reported on an appropriations rider that corrected a longstanding and shameful practice by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) of reporting beneficiaries to NICS as “mental defectives” prohibited from having guns, merely ...

California: Mandatory Storage Legislation Passed in Committee

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

California: Mandatory Storage Legislation Passed in Committee

Yesterday, Senate Bill 53 passed in the Assembly Public Safety Committee on a 6-2 vote and has been referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

New York: Legislature Wraps Up 2024 Regular Session

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

New York: Legislature Wraps Up 2024 Regular Session

Gun owners have reason to celebrate when lawmakers drop the final gavel in Albany. Late Friday night, legislators finished their work and mercifully called it quits. It was a mixed bag for gun owners as the Legislature ...

Michigan: Governor’s New Budget Includes $2.6 Million for Red-Flag Laws

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Michigan: Governor’s New Budget Includes $2.6 Million for Red-Flag Laws

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced her recommendations for the upcoming budget, which included the use of taxpayer funds for Michigan’s new red-flag law and other gun-control measures. The governor recommended $2.6 million for the implementation of ...

NRA Secures Landmark Legal Victory; Supreme Court Unanimously Rules for NRA in First Amendment Case Against Former New York Regulator

News  

Thursday, May 30, 2024

NRA Secures Landmark Legal Victory; Supreme Court Unanimously Rules for NRA in First Amendment Case Against Former New York Regulator

The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) scored a historic legal victory today in one of the most closely followed First Amendment cases in the nation. In a stinging rebuke of New York’s “blacklisting campaign” against ...

MORE TRENDING +
LESS TRENDING -

More Like This From Around The NRA

NRA ILA

Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.