Removing illegal guns from the community will be a focus of this year’s National Illicit Firearms Campaign, led by Crime Stoppers.

During the three-month campaign, a range of community engagement and promotional events in regional and metropolitan communities across Australia will encourage people to share what they know about illegal guns, and to safely surrender any they may have in their possession.

Minister for Home Affairs Karen Andrews said the Federal Government was committed to keeping Australians safe by stamping out gun violence in communities.

“Illegal guns are more likely to be used in crime, more likely to be defective or insecurely stored, and more likely to be involved in accidents,” she said.

“There is no excuse – indeed no legitimate reason – for anyone in Australia to have an illicit firearm.

“Our message today is simple – if you have an illicit firearm, do the right thing. Do the right thing by your friends, family, and community, do the right thing by yourself – hand it in.”

Families and friends of illegal gun owners and anyone else who may have information have been encouraged to speak up and share what they know with Crime Stoppers before it was too late.

“If you surrender it, you can do so without penalty. The alternative is a knock on your door from the police and the potential for serious criminal penalties, including imprisonment,” Ms Andrews said.

Owners of illegal guns have not been subject to background checks and may not be on the radar of police, meaning they could be of danger to friends and family.

Crime Stoppers Australia chair Dr Vince Hughes said all Australians should consider how they would feel if they had information about an illegal gun, which was then used to harm someone.

“Criminals often go to great lengths to obtain a firearm illegally and then conceal it from authorities, and it’s unlikely they would go to that effort unless they are prepared to use it,” he said.

“Australia is certainly not immune from the devastating impacts that come with having illegal firearms in the hands of criminals.

“We have seen the tragic loss of life and severe injuries that occur when people turn a blind eye and allow illegal firearms to remain in the community.”

To share information about an unregistered or illegal gun, contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit www.crimestoppers.com.au/illegalguns.

For more information, including the process to surrender a gun, visit www.crimestoppers.com.au/firearmamnesty.