Published On: Tue, Apr 25th, 2023

U.S. woman arrested in Australia with golden gun in her luggage

An American woman has been arrested at an airport in Australia after arriving with a 24-carat gold-plated handgun in her luggage.

The 28-year-old woman, who authorities did not identify, was arrested and charged shortly after arriving at Sydney Airport from Los Angeles on Sunday, the Australian Border Force said in a news release.

The border force said the woman had not declared the golden firearm, nor did she hold a permit to import or possess the weapon in Australia, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the world.

The woman was charged under section 233BAB(5) of the Customs Act 1901, which states it is illegal for a person to “intentionally” import firearms without prior approval. If convicted, a person can face up to 10 years’ imprisonment, the border force said.

ABF Enforcement and Detained Goods East Commander Justin Bathurst credited the discovery to the diligence of border force officers and the use of sophisticated detection technology.

“Time and time again, we have seen just how good ABF officers are at targeting and stopping illegal, and highly dangerous, goods from crossing Australia’s border,” Bathurst said.

“The ABF is Australia’s first and most important line of defense,” he said. “ABF officers are committed to protecting our community by working with law enforcement partners to prevent items like unregistered firearms getting through at the border.”

The woman appeared before a local court on Monday and received bail, the border force said. She could see her visa cancelled and faces removal from Australia, depending on the outcome of the court proceedings, it said.

Australia’s gun laws have long been held up by gun control advocates as an example of a swift and effective national response to a major mass shooting.

The country’s government ushered in sweeping gun control legislation following the 1996 Port Arthur massacre in Tasmania, which saw a gunman open fire on shop owners and tourists in an attack that left 35 people dead.

In the wake of the shooting, Australia’s government banned all automatic and semi-automatic weapons, and implemented a mandatory buy-back scheme that resulted in more than 600,000 firearms being collected and destroyed.

Gun-related homicides in the country dropped 7.5 percent per year following the reforms, while firearm-related suicides have also fallen, according to one Australian study.

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