DATE: Tuesday, July 1, 2003


The National Handgun Buyback begins in Victoria today with a six-month amnesty on newly prohibited handguns and a month-long education campaign, the Bracks Government announced today.

The Police and Emergency Services Minister, Andre Haermeyer, said the Victorian Government was beginning the buyback with an education campaign to clear up any confusion about which handguns would be compensated under the buyback.

Mr Haermeyer said Victoria had taken the lead on the handgun buyback, passing the relevant legislation in May and providing the Commonwealth with a full list of handguns to come under the buyback.

"Handgun owners should take this month to check their handguns to ensure that they undertake appropriate preparations to surrender their prohibited handguns," Mr Haermeyer said.

"Due to delays in the Federal Government finalising a national agreement on the regulation and administration of the National Handgun Buyback, there may be some confusion among handgun owners about what they are required to do.

"The Victorian Government is ensuring handgun owners have enough time and information to conform with the requirements of the handgun buyback.

"Over the next month, the Victorian Government will place newspaper advertisements in metropolitan and regional newspapers outlining which handguns can be surrendered under the buyback."

Mr Haermeyer said that while the Commonwealth had not finalised an agreement on which handgun events would be accredited, nor concluded administrative and financial arrangements with state governments, Victoria stood ready to implement the buyback.

"The Victorian Government has indicated that this Handgun Buyback is too important to wait for the conclusion of the formal ratification process," he said.

Mr Haermeyer said that while it was important for all firearms to be held in a secure area, it was a legal requirement that collectors and licensed shooters secure their prohibited handguns prior to surrendering them at a buyback centre. It is illegal to use prohibited handguns from today, 1 July.

Handguns are to be surrendered at designated buyback centres, which will be predominantly local gun clubs on a rolling schedule from 1 August.

"Police will attend gun clubs across Victoria to collect newly prohibited handguns, which will be destroyed," Mr Haermeyer said.

"Over the next four weeks, the Government will publicise the timetable for the buy back and the specific locations of the centres for surrender of prohibited handguns.

"If owners have legitimate reasons for not being able to attend at their local buy back centre at the designated date, alternative arrangements can be made.

"Under the amnesty arrangements, from 1 July 2003 to 31 December 2003, firearms collectors must begin to register all pre-1900 handguns except pre-percussion handguns."

A full text of the amnesty is available at: http://www.police.vic.gov.au

The Ministers letters would go out to individual licensed gun owners this week and that the buyback would start with commercial dealers over the next three weeks.

Mr Haermeyer said the new Firearms (Trafficking and Handgun Control) Act significantly increased penalties for the illegal possession or misuse of firearms, particularly handguns, as well as introducing new interstate trafficking provisions.

The Act allows the Chief Commissioner to refuse and revoke firearms licences and applications for firearms licences on the basis of criminal intelligence.

Under National Handgun Buyback regulations:

- Other than for highly specialised target shooting pistols approved by the Police Chief Commissioner, handguns for
target shooters must have a minimum barrel length of:
120mm in the case of semi-automatic handguns; and
100mm in the case of revolvers and single shot handguns;
- Handguns up to a maximum calibre of .38 inches may be used for most target shooting matches;
- Participants in single (or western) action shooting and metallic silhouette shooting matches may retain and use
handguns up to a maximum calibre of .45 inches;
- There is no calibre restriction for black powder handguns in approved black powder matches;
- All handgun magazines must have a maximum shot capacity of 10 rounds;
- Collectors wishing to retain handguns manufactured after 1946 must apply for a new Category 2 Firearms
Collectors' Licence;
- Holders of current firearms collectors' licences will be deemed to possess a Category 1 Firearms Collectors'
Licence and be entitled to retain handguns manufactured before 1947.

Mr Haermeyer said that under the terms of the draft agreement with the Commonwealth, compensation would be available to target shooters for the surrender of legal handguns. In order to take advantage of this, all handguns must be given up and the shooter does not apply for a new license for a period of at least 5 years.

A firearms collector who does not wish to obtain a Category 2 Handgun Licence can also surrender all of their handguns manufactured after 1946 and be compensated for those handguns.

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