Australian amnesty nets 57,000 firearms and rocket launcher

An Australian government report says more than 57,000 illegal firearms including a rocket launcher and machine guns were handed in during a recent amnesty in which gun owners could surrender such weapons without penalty.

The government and some gun policy analysts were surprised on Thursday by the large number of weapons that were surrendered in the first nationwide amnesty since a 1996 massacre in Tasmania state galvanized support for national gun controls.

Tough laws that virtually banned semi-automatic rifles from private ownership accompanied by a government-funded gun buyback reduced the size Australia's civilian arsenal by almost a third.

The reports says a three-month amnesty that ended in September also collected almost 2,500 semi-automatic and fully-automatic guns — the rapid-fire categories particularly targeted by the 1996 reforms.