Australia amnesty takes 57,000 guns off the streets

More than 57,000 illegal firearms, many of them automatic or semi-automatic weapons, have been handed in under an Australian amnesty that authorities yesterday said had made the country safer.

A final count from the three-month campaign to remove weapons from the streets came with debate over gun reform rampant in the United States after a mass school shooting in Florida.

Australia's strict gun laws, enacted after a 1996 mass shooting that killed 35 people, are often held up by safety activists as a model for the US to follow.

The country has had no mass shootings since.

The first national amnesty since Martin Bryant went on the rampage armed with semi-automatic weapons at the historic Tasmanian colonial convict site of Port Arthur 22 years ago netted 57,324 firearms.

Running from July 1 to Sept 30 last year, almost 2,500 of them were fully-automatic and semi-automatic.

Law Enforcement Minister Angus Taylor said it was a great example of what could be achieved "when governments and the Australian public work together to make our communities safer".

"Taking these unregistered firearms off the streets means they will not fall into the hands of criminals," he said.- AFP