By Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten
Dean Weingarten

Arizona -( In a few days, I will be traveling to Australia. My trip will occur during the “Firearms Amnesty” there. I intend to write about the Amnesty, as well as the Australian gun culture.

Blog posts may be a little spotty.  It can be difficult to get decent Internet connectivity when you are flying over the Pacific. Internet availability in Australia depends on where you are. The more people around, the better Internet connections.  There are lots of places in Australia without many people.

This Australian “Amnesty” differs from American “buybacks”. American “buybacks” are more properly termed gun turn in events. The American events, in general pay to have the guns turned in.

In this Australian amnesty, there is no general monetary incentive to turn in guns to the government. The incentives are the draconian punishments the government has put in place for failing to register an otherwise legal product.

From the Amnesty website:

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.

In the U.S.A. there are similar penalties for possession of unregistered short barreled rifles or shotguns, silencers, or machine guns. In the U.S. the penalties for an individual are $10,000 and 10 years in jail.  There are serious efforts to reform the law in the United States.

A few U.S. “buybacks” have sold the guns turned in, and used the money for charity or to fund future “buybacks”.

The Australian government has paid attention to the reforms in a number of American states, where guns must be sold (usually to a dealer) and the proceeds used for public benefit.

The Amnesty incorporates some lessons learned.

1. Unregistered guns may be sold to a dealer instead of being destroyed.

2. Unregistered guns may be registered and become part of the legally registered stock.  Under Australian law, a legal firearms owner may have to wait months for another firearm to be registered to them.

3. If the person bringing in the unregistered gun wants the gun to be destroyed, it will be destroyed.

It is unclear if unregistered replicas, toy guns, or computer code  that can be used to print out guns that look like real guns, will be accepted at the gun Amnesty. Such items are treated the same as functional guns in some Australian states.

The Amnesty differs a bit from state to state.  I will be careful not to possess any toy guns while traveling from one Australian state to the next. Even simple camping tools may be suspect. “Crocodile Dundee” type knives are right out, unless your are actually in the bush at the time you are carrying them. You might be safe if they are locked in the trunk of your car, otherwise.

Looking forward to reporting from Australia.
©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

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About Dean Weingarten:

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.