13 July, 2019
By SJA Jafri
MELBOURNE/ WELLINGTON: Gun owners in Christchurch have handed over their weapons in exchange for cash in the first of planned gun buyback events in New Zealand.
Dozens of Christchurch gun owners have handed over their weapons in exchange for money, in the first of more than 250 planned buyback events around New Zealand after the government outlawed many types of semi-automatics.
Police said they paid more than $NZ430,000 ($A410,000) to 169 gun owners during the event. The money was paid directly into the bank accounts of gun owners.
New Zealand MPs in April rushed through new legislation to ban so-called military-style weapons after a lone gunman killed 51 people at two Christchurch mosques in March.
The government has set aside more than NZ$200 million ($A191 million) to buy back weapons such as AR-15 style rifles, although many gun owners remain unhappy with the compensation on offer.
Under an amnesty, gun owners have until December to turn over their now-banned weapons.
Police said at least 14,000 guns around the country are banned under the new legislation. There are an estimated 1 million to 1.5 million guns in New Zealand and 250,000 licenced gun owners.
Under the buyback scheme, gun owners are compensated between 25 per cent and 95 per cent of the pre-tax price of a new gun, depending on the condition of their weapon.
People who own guns that are not banned under the new laws can also turn over their weapons during the amnesty, although they won’t get any compensation. Police said a half-dozen such weapons were turned in during the Christchurch event.
Police are using hydraulic machines to crush the gun barrels and firing mechanisms of the weapons that are handed in, rendering them inoperable, before disposing of them.
Mike Johnson, an acting district police commander, said the Christchurch buyback had been a success and the attitude of gun owners “outstanding.”
Police Minister Stuart Nash said the results from the first collection were very encouraging.
“Many of those who handed over firearms commented how easy the process is, how the prices are fair, and how police made the whole event go smoothly,” Nash said in a statement.
But Nicole McKee, the secretary of the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners, said the government was shortchanging gun owners by trying to complete the buyback on the cheap.
She said gun owners were forced to rely on police assessments of the condition of their guns and weren’t getting paid anything for the thousands of dollars they had spent on tax as well as certain accessories and ammunition.