Amnesty triggers handover of more than 50 weapons

MORE than 50 shotguns, rifles and crossbows have been surrendered to Gympie police over the past three months, many of them old farm and military guns.

Officer-in-charge Senior Sergeant Graeme Reeves said there had been a last-minute rush as the firearms amnesty deadline neared, and then lapsed last night.

A large variety of older rifles had been yielded by the relatives and descendants of people who had passed away, Snr Sgt Reeves said.

"The majority of them were in poor condition and had been sitting in the back of sheds all over the region and belonged to deceased people," he said.

While 50 was a much reduced figure on the hundreds that were handed over in Gympie during the state's first weapons amnesty in 1997, Snr Sgt Reeves said he was pleased with the result.

"We have also had a lot of people who have brought in a deceased relative's firearms and made application to retain the firearms and legalise them," he said.

Police Commissioner Ian Stewart has meanwhile launched a new Crime Stoppers campaign encouraging Queenslanders to anonymously report illegal firearm activity.

Tough new laws and mandatory sentencing for illegal gun ownership will come into effect today.

The amnesty saw an average of 99 guns a day handed in across the state.

Commissioner Stewart said 8573 firearms had been received in total, including three stolen weapons and 218 semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. He said he was "shocked" to have such a volume.

Of all the firearms police received, 75% had been registered and would be returned to their owners while the rest had been surrendered and would be destroyed.

As of today, illegal firearms possession in a public place will attract a mandatory one-year jail term while those convicted of trafficking illegal firearms will face a mandatory five years behind bars.

Crime Stoppers Queensland chief executive officer Trevor O'Hara said criminals and illegal firearm owners had had their chance to make things right. He said 8500 gave authorities an indication of the scale of the weapons out there in the community.

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