Crime Stoppers promote gun amnesty in South West

Licensing Enforcement Division in Perth Acting Sergeant Greg Kingston with South West District Inspector Steve George.
Licensing Enforcement Division in Perth Acting Sergeant Greg Kingston with South West District Inspector Steve George.

Crime Stoppers WA has partnered with South West police in a bid to promote amnesty and how to safely dispose of a firearm.

Crime Stoppers WA chief executive officer Dr Vince Hughes said an estimated 250,000 long arm and 10,000 handguns were believed to be in Australia which are either unregistered or unable to be registered, as well as prohibited accessories such as silencers and ammunition.

The awareness campaign seems to be working, with Dr Hughes saying there has been about 250 firearms handed in since it started two months ago.

"People hold onto firearms because they're family heirlooms, but they actually don't think they can get them licensed and hold onto them as well," he said.

"So what they do is hide them under a bed and hope that the police won't come knocking."

Crime Stoppers conducted a national firearm amnesty in 2017 which resulted in 57,324 firearms being handed in along with 2,432 parts and accessories and more than 80,000 rounds of ammunition.

During that campaign, several machine guns were handed in including a WWII Sten and a Russian-made submachine gun, as well as a flare gun converted to shoot 12-gauge ammunition, rocket launcher and an anti tank bolt action rifle.

Being caught with an unregistered or illegal firearm outside amnesty conditions could result in a fine of up to $280,000, up to 14 years in jail, and a criminal record.

Licensing Enforcement Division in Perth Acting Sergeant Greg Kingston said if people do want to hand a firearm into police, give them a call first.

"With handing a firearm in, I wouldn't recommend turning up to a police station with a firearm," he said.

"Ideally, phone the police and ask them to come and collect it if they're not too busy or let them know that they will be bringing a firearm in.

"Wrap it up in a towel or a blanket so it's not immediately obvious.

"You turn up to a police station with a firearm under your arm not in a bag or discretely, it could be problematic."

Acting Sergeant Kingston said it was usually the unlicensed firearms that was used in crime.

"So unlicensed firearms that are in the community, police need to know where they are," he said.

"This keeps the community safer."

South West District Superintendent Geoff Stewart said whatever they could do to help Crime Stoppers WA, they would.

"The South West is not immune to incidents involving firearms and there has been some really significant recent events about that so anything that we can do to support what Crime Stoppers can do to get the message out there, to get any firearm that doesn't need to be out there, off the streets, is a good thing not only for the police but for the safety of the community," he said.

Further information about how and where to surrender firearms can be found at www.crimestoppers.com.au