More than 3000 handguns given up in buyback

22 September 2003
By Darren Gray, State Editor

More than 3000 handguns have been surrendered in Victoria in the first six weeks of a buyback scheme.

The large tally was collected at just six centres across regional Victoria and by police visiting licensed firearms dealers.

Victoria Police figures reveal that 3009 handguns had been collected by last Wednesday. People who surrendered guns have been paid $3.37 million compensation for handguns, parts and accessories.

Police Minister Andre Haermeyer said the buyback was going well and would help make the community safer.

"The guns being taken out of circulation are, firstly, some of the most powerful guns around and also some of the smaller, more concealable guns," Mr Haermeyer said.

He said about 10,000 guns were expected to be surrendered in Victoria by the end of the buyback on December 31.

The buyback was established under a deal between the federal and state governments after a licensed gun owner killed two students at Monash University last year. New rules, which came into force on July 1, make it harder to obtain and keep a handgun.

Under the buyback scheme, owners get a compensation cheque on the day they surrender their weapon. The gun barrel is crushed on the post to make the weapon inoperable. The gun is later melted.

Temporary buyback centres have been set up across Victoria. When the first centre was opened, for three days in Geelong last month, 627 guns were collected. When a centre opened for three days in Bendigo this month, it collected 899 guns.

The Victoria Police figures show police have collected 355 handguns from licensed gun dealers. The figures also reveal that 122 gun collectors have given up their handguns.

Before the buyback ends, further temporary centres will have operated in Werribee, Ballarat, Oakleigh, Shepparton, Cranbourne, Bairnsdale and Traralgon.

Mr Haermeyer said: "What we are trying to do is to take the buyback centres out to where the shooters are, by setting them up within gun clubs. This will provide greater accessibiliity for shooters to hand in their guns."

Compensation is paid only to gun owners in cases where the owner is licensed and the gun properly registered.*

However, people who own guns that were prohibited before the tougher gun ownership rules came into effect can still surrender guns. These people will not be compensated, but they can hand them under amnesty that will run until the end of the year.

The Federal Government is funding the first $15 million of the buyback. Thereafter, the cost will be divided equally between the Commonwealth and the states. Justice Minister Chris Ellison said the byuback program was going well.

This article can be found in The Age - Monday, 22 September 2003.

* Editor's note: Firearms manufactured prior to 1900 for which ammunition was not commercially available were excempt from the Firearms Act 1996 and defined as antique. As non-registered firearms, when the Act was ammended collectors of these types of firearms were excluded from receiving compensation.

© Copyright 2005 The Antique and Historical Arms Collectors Guild of Victoria. All rights reserved.