Alannah and Madeline Foundation welcomes National Firearms Amnesty

STAYING SAFE: The federal government has established the first National Firearm Amnesty since the 1996 Port Arthur tragedy, to be launched on July 1.
STAYING SAFE: The federal government has established the first National Firearm Amnesty since the 1996 Port Arthur tragedy, to be launched on July 1.

The Alannah and Madeline Foundation has welcomed a nationwide firearms amnesty, saying with fewer guns in circulation, community safety could be increased. 

On Friday, the federal government launched the 2017 National Firearms Amnesty, the first one since the Port Arthur Massacre tragedy in 1996.

The three-month amnesty will begin on July 1 and allows anyone with an unwanted and unregistered firearm or firearm-related item to legally dispose of or register it at approved drop-off points. 

Tasmania is the only state to have a permanent firearms amnesty already in place. 

The Alannah and Madeline Foundation was established in 1997 in memory of Alannah Mikac, 6, her sister Madeline, 3, and their mother Nanette, who were three of 35 people killed in the Port Arthur tragedy. 

The foundation’s chief executive, Lesley Podesta, said she welcomed the announcement and pointed to the 1996 Firearms Agreement as providing the framework for firearm regulation in Australia. 

Ms Podesta said the agreement was based on the principle that people should only have guns if they had a “genuine reason”. 

“We believe the first amnesty, and subsequent, have been successful in reducing the number of firearms in circulation and have assisted in controlling gun related violence,” Ms Podesta said. 

“Gun control is a social contract that requires education and understanding across the community.” 

Tasmania Police Assistant Commissioner Richard Cowling said a permanent firearms amnesty had been in place in the state since 1997.

Assistant Commissioner Cowling said during the national amnesty period, police would conduct further mobile firearm amnesties across Tasmania. 

“Don’t risk firearms falling into the wrong hands,” he said. 

“Now is the time to put your mind at ease and register or hand in your unregistered or unwanted firearm.”

Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan said just one gun in the wrong hands could be deadly.

Information on where firearms and firearm-related items can be dropped off during the national amnesty period is on the National Firearm Amnesty 2017 website