New laws to be debated in next year’s Assembly could see the ACT enact a permanent firearms amnesty.
Currently, the ACT is already participating – along with all other states and territories – in a National Firearms Amnesty, which commenced on 1 July this year.
However, unlike other states and territories that have made this amnesty permanent, the ACT’s is scheduled to end on 30 June 2022.
Since the declaration of the most recent temporary amnesty in July 2021, a total of 443 firearms, 55 firearm parts and 146 kg of ammunition have been surrendered in the ACT.
Among the hundreds of surrendered firearms were handguns, shotguns, rifles, gel blasters and a flame-thrower, ACT Policing previously said.
Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman introduced the Crimes (Policing) Legislation Amendment Bill to the Legislative Assembly during its last sitting week for 2021.
According to Mr Gentleman, the proposed measures will “reduce the risk of gun violence in the community”.
“A permanent firearms amnesty is an effective public safety measure that reduces the number of guns in the Canberra community, therefore minimising the risk of harm and loss of life caused by misuse of firearms and gun violence,” Mr Gentleman said.
He said the new, permanent amnesty, if introduced, would repeal the current one in place and bring the ACT in line with other jurisdictions.
Under the proposed new laws, people would not face penalties for surrendering unregistered firearms to police.
A legislative basis will also be created for the Firearms Registrar to destroy or dispose of firearms surrendered under the amnesty without needing a court order.
“These changes are aimed at minimising the administrative burden on our courts and law enforcement agency in the context of a permanent amnesty,” he said.
Mr Gentleman has also proposed amendments to introduce stricter storage requirements for firearms held by security companies.
“Applying stricter storage standards for handguns held by security companies will minimise risks of these firearms falling in the hands of unlicensed people with criminal intent,” Mr Gentleman said.
He said the new requirements would bring the ACT closer into step with NSW’s regulations, which would be “advantageous in achieving cross-jurisdictional consistency for organisations conducting business across NSW and the ACT”.
Although the ACT Firearms Registry closed for a period of time during lockdown, it has now resumed normal operations.
During business hours, people wanting to surrender their firearms or firearm-related items can do so at the ACT Firearms Registry at the Exhibition Management Centre, 86 Vicars Street, Mitchell.
It’s preferable that members of the public do not walk into police stations with a firearm to surrender, or if they do so, call ahead to advise they are coming. Firearms must be securely transported in the boot of a vehicle and either wrapped in a blanket or their case.
Contact the ACT Firearms Registry on 5162 9076 if you need assistance surrendering a weapon.
ACT Policing also urges anyone with information about illegal firearms to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. Information can be provided anonymously.
More information, along with National Amnesty requirements in all Australian states and territories, is available at Crime Stoppers.