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Decades after Firearm Confiscation, Australia Announces New Amnesty Program

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In a tacit admission that criminals and scofflaws have had little trouble circumventing Australia’s National Firearms Agreement (NFA) and the government’s confiscation effort, Australian officials have set a date for another firearms amnesty program. The program is set to begin in July and last for three months. Despite offering no compensation for surrendered firearms, government officials hope that the plan will net 260,000 of an estimated 600,000 illegally possessed guns.

In 1996, following a high-profile shooting in Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia’s states and territories adopted the federal NFA. The agreement set up stringent licensing requirements to possess firearms, requiring license applicants provide a “genuine reason” for owning a firearm; the agreement made clear that personal protection was not a genuine reason. The measure also targeted several types of commonly-owned firearms, and included a near total ban on civilian ownership of semi-automatic rifles and semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns.

To coincide with the new restrictions, the government provided a firearms amnesty and compensation program. Through a massive public education campaign, gun owners were warned that they were required to turn their newly-prohibited firearms over to the government for a set price. Incorrectly called a “buy-back” by some U.S. politicians, as the NFA did not grandfather the possession of firearms owned prior to the new restrictions, the ban and amnesty amounted to gun confiscation.

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