(141215) — SYDNEY, Dec. 15, 2014 (Xinhua) — A police patrol car passes the forecourt of the Parliament House hours after a few gunmen took people hostage in a cafe in Sydney CBD, in Canberra, Australia, Dec. 15, 2014. (Xinhua/Xu Haijing)
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Canberra, Jan 21 (IANS) More than 17,000 weapons were surrendered in the first year of Australia’s permanent national firearms amnesty, the government revealed on Saturday.

The government released the first annual report on the amnesty program, which allows Australians to hand in unregistered, illegal or unwanted weapons without facing punishment, revealing 17,543 weapons were surrendered in the first 12 months, reports Xinhua news agency.

The permanent amnesty was set up in mid-2021 following temporary programs in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 and again in 2017.

According to the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, there are approximately 260,000 illicit firearms in circulation in Australia.

Among the weapons handed in between July 2021 and June 2022 were 8,140 rifles, 2,896 shotguns and 789 pistols.

“It is an important measure to reduce the number of firearms circulating in our community, and keep Australians safe,” the country’s Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said on Saturday.