New Zealand’s government has bought more than 10,000 firearms as part of its gun buyback scheme following the Christchurch mosque shootings earlier this year.
A total of 51 people were killed by an Australian white supremacist in two inner-city mosques in Christchurch in March, prompting Jacinda Ardern’s government to ban the sale of military-style semi-automatic weapons.
The government rushed through legislation to set aside 150 million New Zealand dollars to buy back firearms that are now illegal.
A bill outlawing most automatic and semi-automatic weapons, as well as components that modify existing weapons, was passed by a vote of 119 to 1 in April.
As reported by The Guardian, Ardern said at the time:
I could not fathom how weapons that could cause such destruction and large-scale death could be obtained legally in this country.
I struggle to recall any single gunshot wounds. In every case they [victims] spoke of multiple injuries, multiple debilitating injuries that deemed it impossible for them to recover in days, let alone weeks.
They will carry disabilities for a lifetime, and that’s before you consider the psychological impact. We are here for them.
Despite initial reports which suggested the shooter had bought his weapon on the black market, it was later confirmed he’d bought the gun legally in New Zealand.
Since the government’s gun buyback scheme was launched in mid-July, 10,242 firearms have been handed into police, with an additional 1,269 firearms handed in under amnesty, The Guardian reports.
The amnesty means anyone handing back guns won’t be asked how they acquired the weapons, even if they don’t have the right paperwork for the weapon.
A total of 90 gun collection events have been held in New Zealand since last month, according to police, with more than 7,000 firearms owners attending.
New Zealand police said they were ‘really happy’ with the public response in a statement praising gun owners for engaging with the process.
In the weeks following the massacre, which was the worst in New Zealand’s modern history, many firearms owners voluntarily handed in their weapons in disgust over the horror they’d caused in the country.
Unfortunately, others began stockpiling weapons and ammunition knowing they’d soon be banned. Many gun clubs and hunting groups criticised the government’s scheme, saying the compensation offered was not enough, and that law-abiding gun owners shouldn’t be penalised for the actions of one individual.
In the US, many citizens say they own guns for self-protection, however in New Zealand the majority of gun owners say they own weapons for sport, recreation and hunting.
There’s estimated to be a total of between 1.2 million and 1.5 million firearms in New Zealand and gun owners have until December 20 to hand over their now prohibited weapons in the gun buyback scheme.
After that, possession of a banned weapon or part will carry a prison term of two to five years.
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Emma Rosemurgey is an NCTJ trained Journalist who started her career by producing The Royal Rosemurgey newspaper in 2004, which kept her family up to date with the goings on of her sleepy north east village. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in Preston and started her career in regional newspapers before joining Tyla (formerly Pretty 52) in 2017, and progressing onto UNILAD in 2019.