Oct. 5 (UPI) — Australians handed over more than 50,000 unregistered firearms during the country’s three-month national gun amnesty program.
The program was the country’s first since the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, in which Martin Bryant killed 35 people, triggering a nationwide increase on gun control laws. Getting caught with an unregistered firearm can result in a prison sentence of up to 14 years in prison and a fine of up to $280,000.
“Every single one of those 51,000 guns could have been used in a crime where Australians could be killed,” said Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, according to the Guardian. “Now they can’t. They’ve been collected and they will now be destroyed.”
After the approximately 51,000 guns handed into the government, Australian officials estimate there are still 260,000 unregistered guns in the country.
“That is obviously an intelligence estimate of what this amnesty has done, it’s taken 51,000 of those unregistered weapons off the streets, out of harm’s way, so they can’t be used in a crime or be misused in an accident, which … is very common,” Turnbull said, according to Buzzfeed.
After the Las Vegas massacre in the United States that killed nearly 60 people on Sunday, some Australian officials urged Turnbull to extend the three-month amnesty, which lasted from July 1 through September 30. but the Prime Minister refused to do so at this time.
“I’m not suggesting we won’t have gun amnesties in the future, but this one has been very effective because it has, as I said, a beginning, a middle and an end,” he said.