Malcolm Turnbull has quashed Labor calls to extend a national gun amnesty in response to the Las Vegas mass shooting in which a gunman killed 58 people.
The prime minister said the success of a recent amnesty – the first national scheme since the 1996 Port Arthur massacre – was due largely to its specific time frame.
“I’m not suggesting we won’t have gun amnesties in the future, but this one has been very effective because it has, as I said, a beginning, a middle and an end,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney on Friday.
The three-month amnesty, from July 1 to September 30, resulted in 51,000 weapons surrendered.
However, intelligence agencies estimate there are still 260,000 unregistered firearms in circulation.
Australian Federal Police commissioner Andrew Colvin said amnesties were continuing in some jurisdictions.
“If there are members of the public who still have firearms that they’re concerned about, I would strongly encourage them to make contact with their local police,” Mr Colvin said.
Mr Turnbull again took aim at Labor for refusing to back five-year minimum mandatory sentences for people convicted of smuggling guns.
“We need to send a strong signal that if you smuggle guns in Australia, you will go to jail,” he said.
“It doesn’t matter how good your lawyer is, doesn’t matter how persuasive a case you can mount, you should go to jail.”
Labor has long opposed mandatory sentencing, believing it deprives judges of the ability to ensure the penalty fits the crime, arguing parliament’s role is instead to set maximum jail terms.
The opposition wants to see gun smugglers, who run criminal syndicates bringing illegal firearms into Australia, face life behind bars.
Former deputy prime minister Tim Fischer, the chief regional salesman for John Howard’s firearm reforms, has meanwhile weighed in on the United States gun debate.
Mr Fischer welcomed the National Firearm Association’s calls for tougher regulations on the device used by the Las Vegan gunman to modify weapons.
Stephen Paddock used bump stocks to transform a cache of semi-automatic rifles into fully automatic guns, meaning they could fire much more quickly.
“While I welcome the NRA’s statement reflecting a slight change of heart, it is very tightly worded and relates only to the pump stock issue,” Mr Fischer said on Friday.
“There are many other issues which must be tackled in the USA, including sensible limitations on the size of magazines. You don’t need 20 rounds to shoot a wild bore or deer.”
Mr Fischer wants the five most recent US presidents to take a joint stand on gun controls, saying it would be the making of the Trump administration if he were to achieve comprehensive incremental reforms.