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National Handgun Buyback Scheme set to kick off.



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Media Release

SENATOR THE HON. CHRISTOPHER ELLISON

Minister for Justice and Customs

Senator for Western Australia

E77/03 30 June 2003

National Handgun Buyback Scheme set to kick off

The Handgun Buyback Scheme agreed to by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) will come into effect on 1 July 2003 for a period of six months and will be coupled with an amnesty for the return of illegal firearms in all States and Territories.

“The COAG agreement has resulted in handgun reforms which ensure the interests of legitimate sporting shooters and public safety,” the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison said today.

As a result of agreement at the COAG and the Australasian Police Ministers Council (APMC) reforms to handgun ownership and access to handguns will ensure that only genuine, responsible and committed sporting shooters will be able to gain access to handguns. Individuals seeking to participate in sports shooting will have to satisfy a number of strict requirements, including:

• Membership of an accredited sports shooter club; • Satisfactory police record checks and character references; • Graduated access to handguns through a 12 month “probationary” process supervised by the club

• Completion of safety training; and • Participation in a minimum number of shooting events per annum.

In addition to this it has been agreed that handguns not legitimately used for sporting purposes will be prohibited from importation, purchase, or possession. The criteria agreed to by COAG are:

• A barrel length of less than 120mm for semi-automatic handguns, and less than 100mm for revolvers and single-shot handguns; • A shot capacity that exceeds 10 rounds; and • A calibre in excess of .38”, with provision for a calibre up to .45” for specially accredited

events (to be agreed to by COAG).

A key purpose of the reforms is to take pocket pistols, sub-nosed revolvers and other readily concealable handguns not used in genuine sporting competitions out of circulation.

Senator Ellison said that a list of 4000 handgun models had been distributed to the States and Territories, and details of the buyback would be available on the Government website www.handgunbuyback.gov.au from 1 July.

Senator Ellison said that the scheme had involved the cooperation of all State and Territory Governments and the Commonwealth Government, and he paid tribute to the constructive work done by the Sporting Shooters Advisory Council, which had made a significant contribution to the development of the scheme. …/2

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Senator Ellison said that New South Wales and South Australia had announced that their scheme would not start until 1 October 2003, but did not see that this would present a problem nationally.

Senator Ellison said the fight against illegal guns in the community remained a high priority for the Commonwealth Government.

“We have introduced national firearms trafficking legislation and the Australian Crime Commission’s first priority investigation is a national investigation into firearms trafficking and particularly the issue of illegal handguns in Australia,” Senator Ellison said.

Media inquiries: Mairi Barton Ph 02/6277 7260 or 0439 300 335