New Zealand police hail first gun ‘buyback’ event a success, in wake of Christchurch shooting

‘I wasn’t particularly happy about it. But the outcome was good and they handled it well,’ man says of process to hand in semi-automatic weapons

Police photographs show the firearms collected at the first buyback event of the amnesty on newly illegal weapons, which will run until 20 December
Police photographs show the firearms collected at the first buyback event of the amnesty on newly illegal weapons, which will run until 20 December

New Zealand’s police have said the country’s first gun “buyback” carried out four months after the Christchurch shooting has been a success with over 200 prohibited firearms handed over to the state.

The policy was announced following the country’s worst peacetime mass shooting in which 51 people were killed and dozens injured when a gunman attacked worshippers in two mosques in the city of Christchurch on 15 March.

The first buyback event was held in Christchurch, and 169 individuals handed in 224 guns.

There are 247 more gun buyback events planned across New Zealand by the end of the year, in which owners of newly-banned semi-automatic weapons can return their guns and receive compensation.

The attitude of firearm owners who participated was “outstanding,” police official Mike Johnson said.

According to the New Zealand Herald, he said: “Everything ran smoothly, and firearms owners’ attitude towards this process was outstanding.

“It’s been a very positive experience, we’re really proud of what we’ve achieved today.”

Mr Johnson said people were queuing up outside the venue from 8.30 – more than an hour before the event was set to begin.

“We opened early to facilitate the public coming through – and they went right through to past 3 o’clock. The engagement from the public has been stunning.”

“They have really engaged in the process here today and we have had positive feedback,” he added.

One gun owner, who sought anonymity, told the New Zealand Herald he was happy with the NZ$13,000 (£6,922) he received for his semi-automatic hunting firearm, despite initial doubts.

“I didn’t think this would be a fair process at all – I wasn’t particularly happy about it. But the outcome was good and they handled it well,” the paper quoted him as saying.

Police said gun owners were compensated with a total of NZ$433,682 (£231,000) on Saturday. The government has set aside NZ$208 million (£110m) for the scheme.

Parliament passed the gun reform law – the first substantial changes to New Zealand’s gun laws in decades – by a vote of 119 to 1 in April.

The new laws bar the circulation and use of most semi-automatic firearms, parts that convert firearms into semi-automatics, magazines over a certain capacity and some shotguns.

With a population of just under 5 million and an estimated total of 1.5 million firearms, New Zealand ranks 17th in the world in terms of civilian firearm ownership, the Small Arms Survey shows.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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