Despite having some of the world’s toughest gun laws, around 250,000 unlicensed guns are estimated to be in circulation in Australia.
Australia’s gun legislation is often held up as an example for the US to potentially follow after a spate of shootings, most recently in Florida where a lone gunman killed 17 people at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High school.
In Australia, anyone caught with an illegal firearm outside the amnesty period could face a $280,000 (US$212,500) fine and up to 14 years in prison.
Rocket launchers and machine guns
Of the 57,000 guns surrendered, almost 2,500 were either fully or semi-automatic. More than, 80,000 rounds of ammunition were also given up.
As well as a host of regular rifles and shotguns, the amnesty turned up several bizarre items, including a World War II Sten machine gun, Swiss cavalry sabers from the 1800s, an anti-tank rifle, and a rocket launcher.
Other items included a bolt-action rifle concealed within a spirit level, two tiny pistols the size of pens, and a homemade machine gun housed within a briefcase.
“Taking these unregistered firearms off the streets means they will not fall into the hands of criminals, who might use them to endanger the lives of innocent Australians,” said Angus Taylor, Australia’s Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security.
Supporters of the move pointed to both security incidents in Australia and mass killings in the US as a reason why the amnesty was needed.
Those statistics are often pointed to by gun-control advocates in the US as proof restricting the availability of deadly weapons can reduce the number of deaths from them.