A two-month amnesty on unwanted and illegal weapons has begun in Victoria, following the news that more than 1200 weapons have been handed in at the halfway point of a similar program in South Australia.
“No questions asked. We just want these potentially deadly weapons off our streets,” Victorian police Deputy Commissioner Tim Cartwright said.
The amnesty is part of the state’s community safety month, and police say people handing in weapons of any kind can do so at police stations without the threat of prosecution.
Police are not just targeting illegally held firearms, but knives, laser pointers, and any other ‘weapons’, whether they’re illegal or not.
“We’ve seen in previous amnesties a number of items voluntarily surrendered, included high-powered firearms, handguns, air rifles and flick knives,” Mr Cartwright said.
“Laser pointers and imitation firearms are also prohibited weapons that we expect should be handed in.
“This amnesty is about giving people the opportunity to make the right choice and hand in their unwanted or illegal firearms, knives and any other weapons during this time.”
All weapons surrendered to police will be destroyed.
The amnesty will be in place until 30 November.
South Australian police began an amnesty in August in the lead-up to the introduction of tougher penalties for gun crimes, and the fact that 1200 firearms were surrendered midway through the three-month amnesty may have helped prompt Victoria’s decision to run one.
Police say Victoria has recorded an increase in weapons and explosive offences of 24%, from 6915 offences in 2010/11 to 8697 offences in 2011/12.
“Anyone who chooses not to use this amnesty as an opportunity and continues to carry illegal weapons faces harsh penalties – up to two years imprisonment, or up to 10 years for firearms offences,” Cartwright said.
All weapons must be handed in at police stations, wrapped in paper, plastic or cloth and transported in a safe and secure manner.