The most populous state in Australia is working to melt and dispose of over three tons of firearms seized over the past year.
Police in New South Wales amassed over 2,809 firearms, including rifles, shotguns, and pistols, from criminal investigations and submissions. They are working to melt down the deadly weapons into steel and other recyclable materials in an effort to keep the guns off of the streets as several nations increasingly look to restrict firearms in the wake of the Uvalde, Texas, mass shooting.
"We've all seen the harm that is caused by the unlawful use of firearms and the fear it can cause within the broader community," Police Commissioner Karen Webb said, per 9News. "Some of these items are collected through long-term, complex criminal investigations, and others are located through isolated search warrants and police incidents."
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Melting down guns in Australia is standard practice for law enforcement. Between 1996 and 2015, over 1 million guns were seized or surrendered and then melted down, according to the University of Sydney.
Last July, New South Wales police implemented an amnesty policy to allow people to surrender guns without being questioned, Webb noted.
"We've got strong gun and firearm legislation in New South Wales that restricts the use to licensed holders," she said. "But when it falls into the wrong hands or has to be surrendered, then people are able to surrender their firearms no questions asked."
Police officers in New South Wales collect hundreds of guns every week, some of which come from strike force operations. About 84 illegal firearms were confiscated by anti-gang Strike Force Hawk operations during the past month, NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole noted.
"These guns are actually being used to cause fear and harm out there amongst society," he said. "They will go to the scrap heap."
"We know the vast majority of those in our community possess firearms for a valid reason — and then there are those who use these weapons to inflict fear and cause serious harm to others," Toole continued.
New South Wales has a population of over 8 million people, accounting for almost a third of the country's 25 million population size.
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Gun laws in Australia are stricter than rules in the United States. Following the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, in which 35 people were killed and 23 others were wounded, the country tightened its gun laws. One of the measures, a gun buyback program for newly outlawed semi-automatic weapons, collected 650,000 guns between 1996 and 1997.
Advocates for heightened gun control often reference that program and cite the declining firearm-related deaths that followed, with the country having experienced only one mass shooting since those reforms were enacted.