South Australia’s gun amnesty has resulted in more than 1200 firearms being surrendered to police, who say many are legitimate sporting firearms while a small number are “completely illegal”.
At the halfway point of the amnesty, police say they are very happy with the results to date.
“We wanted to give people who were in possession of illegal or unwanted firearms an opportunity to get them out of their premises … before the parliament changed the law and made the penalties for possession of those sorts of weapons far more severe than it has been up until now,” Attorney-General John Rau said.
While this aim appears to be vindicated by the number of weapons handed in, there is no evidence to suggest the amnesty has actually made South Australia safer.
Only seven firearms handed in so far are ‘prescribed’ weapons, while 60 are handguns and 70 are imitation firearms, according to SA police.
The only evidence that the amnesty was making SA safer came in generalised statements, a common theme for amnesties around the globe.
“This is 1200 fewer opportunities for people to be harmed or threatened in our community,” Police Minister Jennifer Rankine said. “It’s 1200 fewer opportunities for a child to get hold of a gun accidentally, and I think it’s fair to say that if you have guns that are unwanted and unlicensed in your premises they’re not likely to be secured properly, either.”
In the same sentence he talked about clearly illegal guns, Police Commissioner Gary Burns referred to the “military calibre” firearms handed in, but did not say why these might be a problem.
“Guns off our streets make our streets safer,” he said.
The police will conduct ballistic tests to determine whether any of the firearms had been used in a recorded crime, and all the guns will be destroyed.
You can listen to the media conference below.