From the Archives, 1996: Thousands of guns crushed in wake of Port Arthur

First published in The Age on August 26, 1996

Thousands of guns go into crusher

Thousands of surrendered guns, already rendered inoperable, were dismantled and crushed yesterday.

Guns about to be destroyed as part of the 1996 buyback. Credit:Dean Sewell

About 5500 guns were destroyed at a Simsmetal yard in Brooklyn. They are part of the 8500 that have been turned in so far. The other 3000 were destroyed in a trial run at metal last week.

A crane picked up between 200 and 300 guns at a time. Metals and woods were separated and sent through a device normally used for car bodies.

The amnesty, which has been operating in Victoria for two weeks, is part of national gun reform measures undertaken after the Port Arthur massacre in April.

Firearm collection centres have been paying out compensation to owners of semi-automatic centre-fire rifles, semi-automatic rim-fire rifles, and semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns.

Cheques totalling $4.5 million have been made out so far in Victoria.

As soon as compensation is paid and a notice of abandonment issued, the guns’ barrels are bent and their firing mechanisms crushed by a three-tonne hydraulic press at each collection centre.

At the end of each day, the guns are taken by a-security van to a central store. Each Sunday from now on, those weapons will then be transferred to Simsmetal where they will be crushed and dismantled.

Bar codes placed on the guns after surrender will he .rechecked to make sure records are accurate.

After the crushing, some gun parts are still recognisable, but useless. A spokeswoman for Firearm Reform said: “You could never pick out a fistful of pieces and make another gun out of it. It’s a mangled mess of metal hits.”

Owners can hand their weapons in at metropolitan centres in Box Hill, Dandenong, Heidelberg and Sunshine until 30 September next year. Anyone with a weapon worth more than $2500 can have an independent valuation done.

Between now and mid-October, regional centres in Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Bairnsdale-Sale, Hamilton and Wangaratta, supported by four mobile units, will open.

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