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About the amnesty

About the amnesty

Below is general information about the amnesty. The information is subject to local arrangements, which you can read about by clicking on the appropriate state or territory link on the right hand side of this page.

Please note the term 'firearms' is used below to refer to unregistered firearms as well as unregistered firearm-related articles. Both can be handed in as part of the amnesty.

What is the amnesty?

The amnesty runs from 1 July to 30 September 2017, and allows you to hand in unregistered firearms without fear of prosecution. You may also use the amnesty to hand in registered firearms you no longer need. There is no limit to the number of items you can hand in.

Why is the amnesty being held?

The aim of the amnesty is to improve public safety by reducing the number of unregistered firearms in Australia. The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission estimates there are more than 260,000 firearms in Australia's illicit firearms market. The use and movement of illicit market firearms is a national problem; the amnesty is one of several initiatives being used to address firearm-related crimes and threats.

Why should I participate in the amnesty?

The amnesty is the time to sell, register or dispose of unregistered firearms without penalty.

Owning and using unregistered firearms carries risks for you and your family. If you are found in possession of an unregistered firearm outside the amnesty, you may face a criminal conviction, fines and even imprisonment.

Unregistered firearms also carry risks for your community. Although unregistered firearms are not usually held by people with criminal intent, unaccounted for firearms do make their way into the hands of people who use them for criminal purposes. Unregistered firearms that end up in the hands of criminals are very difficult to recover, meaning they can pose a greater threat than registered firearms that are lost or stolen. For example, the shotgun used by Man Haron Monis during the Lindt Café Siege was unregistered, and impossible to trace.

What is an unregistered firearm?

In Australia, all firearms must be registered (with the exception of some antique firearms). An unregistered firearm is therefore one that is not registered with the relevant state or territory firearms registry and to the current owner.

Examples of unregistered firearms include (but are not limited to):

  • grey market firearms (longarms that should have been registered or surrendered during the 1996-1997 buyback, but were not)
  • firearms handed down to family members as part of deceased estates
  • firearms possessed by people who do not have the appropriate type of licence
  • firearms found on rural properties (having been left by previous owners).

All types of unregistered firearms can be handed in during the amnesty.

What items are covered by the amnesty?

Articles that can be handed in for sale, registration or destruction during the amnesty include:

  • firearms
  • firearm parts, such as frames, receivers, barrels and trigger mechanisms
  • sound suppressors (silencers)
  • magazines
  • ammunition.

If you are in possession of an item you would like to hand in but it does not appear in the list above, you can contact your state or territory firearms registry for advice. You will not be required to provide personal details as part of your enquiry.

Who can participate in the amnesty?

Anyone can participate in the amnesty.

A very small number of exceptions may apply in extraordinary circumstances, for example, if you are subject to a relevant prohibition (such as a Firearm Prohibition Order). To find out whether there are restrictions in your state or territory about who can participate, you should contact your state or territory firearms registry for advice.

What protection does the amnesty provide?

The amnesty provides protection from prosecution where a person is in possession of an unregistered firearm for the purpose of handing it in under state and territory amnesty arrangements. For example, if you were pulled over by police on the way to a pre-arranged appointment to hand in unregistered firearms, you would not be prosecuted for possessing those firearms.

The amnesty does not provide protection from prosecution where a person is in possession of an unregistered firearm for any reason other than handing it in under state and territory amnesty arrangements. For example, if during an unrelated search police discovered unregistered firearms in your house, you could be prosecuted for possessing those firearms.

What will happen if I am found in possession of an unregistered firearm after the amnesty is over?

If you are found in possession of an unregistered firearm, you could face significant penalties. Depending on your state or territory, and the seriousness of the offence, penalties may include a fine of up to $280,000, or jail time of up to 14 years, or both. These penalties may apply even if it is your first firearm-related offence.

If you are found in possession of unregistered firearms, you may also receive a criminal conviction. Criminal convictions can have serious consequences for you and your family, and may impact your ability to keep any registered firearms you have.

Where do I hand in firearms?

Every state and territory has approved amnesty drop-off points. Drop-off points may include police stations, mobile stations or licensed firearms dealers. Locations may also differ depending on whether you are seeking to sell, register or destroy the articles.

To learn about local arrangements in your state or territory, please refer to the jurisdiction-specific pages on this website. To find your nearest drop-off point, please refer to the 'Find a drop-off point' page. You should hand in firearms in your own state or territory. However, if it is easier for you to hand in articles in a different jurisdiction, or if you cannot get to an approved drop-off point during the amnesty, you should contact your state or territory firearms registry to seek advice.

What arrangements do I need to make before I hand in my firearms?

Some states and territories may require you to make specific arrangements before handing in your firearms. For example, you may be required to make an appointment if you are handing in firearms at a police station. To learn about arrangements in your state or territory, please refer to the jurisdiction-specific pages on this website.

Whether or not you are required to make specific arrangements, you should consider making contact with someone at your chosen drop-off point to confirm how to safely hand in firearms. If you have concerns about handling firearms or safely transporting them, you should contact your state or territory firearms registry to seek advice.

Under no circumstances should loaded firearms be taken into a public place.

What will happen to the firearms I hand in?

Firearms handed in during the amnesty will be registered, sold or destroyed. Local arrangements in your state or territory will determine which of these options are available to you, noting that not everyone will be able to register or sell items they hand in. For example, in some states or territories you may only be able to register firearms if you were a licensed firearm owner before the amnesty started.

If you apply to register firearms you hand in, those firearms will be stored at an approved location while the registration process takes place. Depending on your state or territory, this approved location may be a police station or a licensed firearms dealer.

If you successfully apply to have firearms registered and they are returned to you, their ongoing storage requirements will differ depending on their type. In some cases, requirements may also differ according to the number of items being stored. It is a condition of firearms licensing in Australia that firearm owners comply with storage requirements.

Will I be compensated for firearms I hand in?

You may be able to sell your unregistered firearms to a licensed firearms dealer during the amnesty. If you sell any firearms, the sale will be subject to private commercial arrangements between you and the dealer.

Compensation will not be paid for firearms handed in for destruction.

Will there be any cost involved in handing in firearms?

There is no cost involved with handing in firearms for destruction. If you seek to register firearms you hand in, you may need to pay licensing, registration or permit to acquire fees.

Licensed firearms dealers are also participating in the amnesty in some states and territories. A dealer may charge you an inspection, administration or storage fee for services provided.

Do I have to provide my personal details when I hand in firearms?

You are not obliged to provide any personal details if you hand in firearms for destruction. The only exception is in Western Australia, where you will be asked to provide basic details so you can be issued a receipt.

If you seek to register or sell articles, you will be required to provide personal details. This is standard practice when selling or registering firearms and firearm-related articles.

Can I give my firearms to a friend or family member who has a firearms license?

No, you cannot give firearms to friends or family members, even if those friends or family members are licensed firearms owners. Firearms must be registered to a specific owner. If you give a firearm to a friend or family member, you are putting them at risk of criminal prosecution.

If you would like to discuss the possibility of having an unregistered firearm registered to a licensed friend or family member during the amnesty, you should contact your state or territory firearms registry to seek advice.

What is the survey available to amnesty participants?

A voluntary and anonymous survey is available to anyone participating in the amnesty. Survey responses will be used to assess amnesty outcomes and support future amnesties. Your participation in the survey is voluntary, and you may complete some or all of the survey. Your responses will remain completely anonymous, and cannot be linked to you personally.

I have a friend or family member who has unregistered firearms. What should I tell them?

If you know someone who has unregistered firearms, you should encourage them to participate in the amnesty by directing them to this website. You can also suggest they contact their local firearms registry to learn more about how they can take part.

It is important to remember that people found in possession of unregistered firearms outside the amnesty may be subject to significant penalties.

You can also encourage people to take part by promoting the amnesty in your community. You will find materials including posters and brochures on the Resources page of this website.

What can I do to report people I think are involved in firearm-related crimes?

You can report information about criminal activity to Crime Stoppers Australia. Crime Stoppers can be contacted on 1800 333 000 or via its website. Information can be provided anonymously.

Where can I go for further information about the amnesty?

If you have further questions about amnesty arrangements in your state or territory, please refer to the jurisdiction-specific pages on this website. If you cannot find answers to your question on those pages or would prefer to speak with someone, you can call 1800 909 826 to be put through to your state or territory firearms registry.

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