Semi-automatic killing weapons over the counter in Tasmania

from page 24 of The Mercury, May 1, 1996

[no by-line]

  Both guns allegedly used in the Port Arthur massacre are legal in Tasmania.
  The gunman allegedly used a US AR-15 which is a civilian version of the American M16, and a Chinese SKS assault rifle.
  The importation of both weapons into Australia is banned and they are illegal in most states and territories -- except Tasmania and Queensland.
  The AR-15, similar to the rifle used by the US in Vietnam, sells for between $800 and $1200 in Tasmania, but thousands of the Chinese SKS were imported in the 1980s before the importation ban, and sell for between $250 and $300.
  Neither gun is fully auto-matic, which would require a special permit under Tasmanian law, and it is therefore legal in Tasmania for anyone who has a gun licence to buy them.
  Under the Tasmanian Guns Act the minister has the power to declare any category of self-loading centre-fire gun a prohibited weapon.
  Once a weapon is declared prohibited, special permits to own them can only be issued to people who are members of approved rifle club, or gun collectors.
  However no semi-automatic weapons been declared a prohibited gun in Tasmania.
  Last October Tasmanian Greens Leader Christine Milne introduced an amendment to the gun laws to State Parliament which would have taken the power aways from the minister to declare a weapon prohibited and give that power to the Police Commissioner.
  At the time Mrs Milne said she believed given the opportunity the Police Commissioner would declare all semi-automatic military-style weapons prohibited.
  She warned that this should occur before "we suffer a disaster here as has occured in other places".
  The legislation was opposed by the Government and Labor Party.
  Then police minister Frank Madill read advice he had received from Police Commissioner John Johnson that since the introduction of gun laws in 1991 no incidents had occurred with any particular class of weapon that had required a recommendation for it to be declared a prohibited gun.
  Tasmania and Queensland are the only states where the sale of these weapons is not banned.

[images: "A US AR-15, above, and a Chinese SKS assault rifle, below." (17x10) ]

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