Crackdown on illegal firearms

POLICE have kicked off a crackdown on illegal firearms with Operation Unification _ Illegal Guns Off Our Streets.

It follows an incident on Saturday morning where police pulled over a car at Newstead to allegedly find a loaded handgun and devices to quickly reload a gun, known as a speedloader.

It was the 10th reported gun crime in the Launceston area in just over two months.

The two-week operation launched yesterday is part of an Australia-wide campaign to get stolen and illegally imported, manufactured and used firearms out of circulation.

Special amnesty days will be held at Launceston Police Station on June 19 and Sorell Police Station on June 21. 

The mobile police station bus will be used in the North-West. 

There have been more than 200 firearms stolen in 54 burglaries in Tasmania since last July.

Two air-rifles stolen from a home in Clementina Street, Newstead, on June 5 have also been recovered. 

Thieves targeted the home of a shooting club member, stealing 14 firearms, jewellery and laptops. 

The recovered .177 calibre rifles were found  in the vehicle stolen during the burglary.

There are about 37,000 gun owners in Tasmania with around 132,000 registered firearms in circulation. 

``Nearly all illegally possessed firearms were once legal because they were either stolen or never registered,'' Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Joel said yesterday. 

``We've had good success in recent years in locating and destroying illegal firearms.''

Last year's Operation Unification saw 33 illegal firearms seized and 17 people charged with firearms offences.

A mobile gun amnesty station touring  the state over the past 12 months has seen more than 450 guns handed in.

It also saw an increase in calls to Crime Stoppers. 

Anyone who has information about those involved with illegal firearms is asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800333000. 

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