Australia will allow gun owners to hand in illegal firearms without penalty from next month as concerns grow over gun crimes involving such weapons, a federal minister said Friday.
The three-month nationwide amnesty on surrendered firearms will be Australia’s first since 1996, when a lone gunman killed 35 people in Tasmania state and galvanized support for tough national gun controls.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the new amnesty was needed to reduce the number of guns in the community because of new security threats including Islamic extremism.
There have been five violent incidents in Australia that the government describes as terrorist attacks since the national terror threat level was raised in September 2014. Three involved illegal guns and two involved knives.
“We’re living in a time when our national security environment has deteriorated,” Keenan said.
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