Labor calls for gun runners to face life in jail, gun amnesty extension

Labor leader Bill Shorten has called for convicted gun smugglers to face life in prison, and for the Turnbull government to extend the national gun amnesty until the end of 2017 to get more weapons off the street.

Just days after the massacre of 58 people in Las Vegas, and the end of the three month gun amnesty on September 30, Mr Shorten has told Fairfax Media the Turnbull government should be doing more to keep guns off Australian streets.

The call comes as state and territory first ministers arrive in Canberra on Thursday for a special Council of Australian Governments meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that will focus exclusively on counterterrorism.

The meeting will discuss law changes that would allow terrorism suspects to be interrogated for up to 14 days before being charged, two new offences for possessing "instructional terrorist material" and for making terrorism hoaxes, and a proposal that would see the states hand over the identities of millions of Australian drivers to the federal government.

NSW and Victoria have already signalled a willingness to back these proposals, and the other states are not expected to stand in the way.

Back in February, both Labor and the Coalition voted for new laws in the Senate that would make it possible for convicted gun smugglers to face life in prison - the maximum penalty for drug trafficking.

The government had wanted mandatory minimum sentences for gun smuggling but Labor had voted against that, citing opposition to this from the Law Council and the Attorney-General's Department.

The laws have not been passed by the lower house but, Mr Shorten said, it was time for the government to bring it forward for a vote after eight months delay.

"The only thing standing in the way of life sentences for gun runners is Turnbull and his government. It's a sad fact that an illegal gun was used in the Lindt Cafe Siege. We should do everything we can to stop this sort of tragedy ever happening again," he said.

The gun amnesty saw 28,000 firearms surrendered in three months and was the first nationwide amnesty since 1996. While states were responsible for the logistics, the federal government bore the cost of the advertising, which was almost a million dollars.

Mr Shorten said that law enforcement experts had estimated up to 600,000 illegal guns remain on Australian streets, and that "this is just far too many".

"Australians are rightfully proud of our gun laws, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do more," he said.

"We need to let well-meaning Australians hand in any guns, especially high-powered, military style weapons, that they shouldn't have."

It's understood the Turnbull government is not, at this stage, considering extending the gun amnesty.

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The story Labor calls for gun runners to face life in jail, gun amnesty extension first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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