Australia

Australians turn in 26,000 guns in national amnesty

A pile of guns handed in to authorities Image copyright AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT
Image caption More than 400 weapons have been surrendered each day since July

Australians have handed in nearly 26,000 firearms in the nation's first gun amnesty since its landmark response to a mass shooting in 1996.

The amnesty began on 1 July to help counter a growing terrorism threat and an influx of arms in the country.

It is illegal to own an unregistered firearm in Australia.

Those caught outside the amnesty period face fines of up to A$280,000 (£172,000, $225,000) and up to 14 years in jail.

The current programme, running until 30 September, means Australians can surrender unregistered firearms and related items without fear of prosecution.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the "great result" so far would make the nation safer.

Police estimate there are as many as 260,000 illicit guns in Australia, with some used in organised crime as well as recent terror incidents.

Mr Keenan cited the example of Man Haron Monis, the perpetrator of a Sydney cafe siege in 2014, who used an unregistered shotgun which had entered Australia in the 1950s.

Australians turned in 643,726 firearms in 1996 and 1997 following the killing of 35 people in the Tasmanian town of Port Arthur - the nation's worst and most recent mass shooting.

The incident also led to a ban on semi-automatic and automatic weapons in the country.

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