Toowoomba slow to lay down guns under amnesty

TOOWOOMBA residents have been slow to take advantage of the National Firearms Amnesty. Only eight rifles were handed to police in the past month.

Seven of the surrendered weapons have been destroyed and one stored pending a licence application as part of the provisions under the amnesty which runs through to Saturday, September 30.

Toowoomba City Patrol Group Inspector Stephen Angus said while the initial uptake had been slow, he expected an influx of residents surrendering unwanted or unregistered weapons towards the end of the amnesty period.

"The firearms in general terms are in poor condition and of little or no value," Insp. Angus said.

"Historically with the last firearms amnesty, people tend to leave it to the last minute, to the last week or two in the amnesty, and suddenly decide to do something."

The national amnesty, which started on July 1, also encouraged people to dispose of weapons at licensed dealers where the guns could be sold or destroyed with no questions asked.

The Open Range co-owner David Lobwein said about 20 to 30 guns had been surrendered at his James St store, most of which were inoperable air rifles or .22 calibre rifles.

He said four pistols had been handed in, and one .308 semi-automatic, while a number of other weapons had been stored at the shop pending licence applications.

It is the first nation-wide amnesty since 1996 and gives residents a chance to surrender unwanted or illegal firearms, or have them registered, without fear of prosecution or charges.

Anyone found with an illegal firearm outside the amnesty faces fines of up to $280,000, up to 14 years in jail, and a criminal record.

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