DATE: Sunday, December 28, 2003


More than 18,000 handguns have been surrendered to Victoria Police under the Handgun Buyback, the Acting Minister for Police and Emergency Services, John Lenders, said today.

Mr Lenders said approximately 4260 gun owners visited Handgun Buyback Centres across Victoria and received $20.7 million in compensation for surrendered guns, parts and accessories.

"Victoria's Handgun Buyback has been a tremendous success with 18,934 handguns surrendered to Victoria Police over the past six months," Mr Lenders said.

"I would like to thank Victorian gun owners for their compliance with new gun regulations.

"I particularly thank the gun clubs across the state that opened their doors to the Handgun Buyback Scheme to serve as Handgun Buyback Centres. Their cooperation has been pivotal to the success of the Handgun Buyback."

Mr Lenders said the Firearms Amnesty expired today, Wednesday, 31 December, 2003. From Thursday, 1 January, 2004, possession of newly prohibited guns is illegal and carries appropriate sanctions of up to four years imprisonment or fines of up to $24,000.

The Chief Commissioner of Police and the Minister for Police and Emergency Services have approved an extension of the buyback until 31 March 2004 for parts and accessories held by licensed firearms dealers only.

They have also approved a new amnesty to give firearms owners and collectors sufficient time to comply with the new requirements relating to the ownership and collecting of handguns resulting from the recent amendments to the Firearms Act 1996. The new Amnesty commences on 1 January 2004 and has 3 separate components, as follows:
- Firearms collectors now required to install a class of monitored alarm system approved by the Chief Commissioner of Police have until 1 September 2004 to do so;
- Owners of percussion and post-percussion handguns manufactured before 1900 have until 1 September 2004 to comply with the new requirement for the registration of such handguns; and
- Firearms collectors who wish to possess and carry handguns manufactured on or after 1 January 1947 for the purpose of collecting have until 29 February 2004 to obtain a Category 2 Firearms Collectors' Licence.

"These extensions are commonsense and give legitimate collectors adequate time to comply with the new regulations," Mr Lenders said.

The Handgun Buyback and Amnesty commenced on 1 July 2003 after State and Territory Governments entered into the National Handgun Control Agreement in the wake of shootings at Monash University in 2002.

The Firearms (Trafficking and Handgun Control) Act 2003 amended the Firearms Act 1996 to implement the National Handgun Control Agreement and the National Firearms Trafficking Policy Agreement in Victoria.

The Firearms Act 1996 now provides for significantly increased penalties for the illegal possession or misuse of firearms, particularly handguns, as well as introducing new interstate trafficking provisions. The Act also now allows the Chief Commissioner to refuse and revoke firearms licences and applications for firearms licences on the basis of criminal intelligence.

Under the new regulatory regime for handguns:
- A graduated scheme of access to handgun licences for handgun target shooting has been introduced;
- All percussion and post-percussion handguns are required to be registered;
- With the exception of certain highly specialised target shooting pistols approved by the Chief Commissioner of Police or unless authorised by the Chief Commissioner of Police, a handgun target shooter may not possess, carry or use a handgun:
with a barrel length that is less than 120mm in the case of semi-automatic handguns and 100 mm in the case of revolvers and single shot handguns; or
(other than for black powder handguns used in approved handgun target shooting matches), that has a calibre greater than .45 inch;
- A handgun target shooter may not possess, carry or use a handgun with a magazine capacity in excess of 10 rounds;
- Handgun target shooters must satisfy minimum participation requirements in order to retain their shooting licences;
- The Firearms Regulations 1997 prescribe approved handgun target shooting matches in which handgun target shooters may participate;
- There is a two-tiered licensing regime for handgun collectors. Those collectors wishing to retain handguns manufactured after 1946 are required to apply for a new Category 2 Firearms Collectors' Licence, whilst holders of existing firearms collectors' licences are deemed to possess a Category 1 Firearms Collectors' Licence and are entitled to retain handguns manufactured before 1947; and
- Certain firearms collectors are required to satisfy enhanced storage/security requirements.

For more information contact the Victoria Police Licensing Services Branch on 1300 651 645. A copy of the new amnesty is available at: http://www.police.vic.gov.au/handgunbuyback

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