More than 150 New Zealanders handed over their firearms in exchange for money yesterday as part of a buyback scheme established after the Christchurch shooting.
Gun reforms were enacted in the country following the Christchurch attack in March this year, which saw a gunman open fire on two mosques, killing 51 people.
The gun reform bill was passed in April as the House of Representatives voted 119 to 1 in favour of banning semi-automatic weapons and parts which can be used to assemble prohibited firearms.
— CGTN (@CGTNOfficial) July 14, 2019
In keeping with the ban, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern directed officials to develop a buyback scheme offering owners ‘fair and reasonable compensation’ for having to turn in their guns. The government has pledged NZ$208 million (£110 million) for the scheme.
Yesterday’s collection took place over five hours at Christchurch’s Riccarton Racecourse and saw 169 firearms owners hand in 224 weapons and 217 parts and accessories in exchange for a total of more than NZ$433,600 (£230,000) in compensation.
The weapons were then destroyed.
Speaking of the initiative, regional police commander Mike Johnson said:
Police recognise that this is a big change for the law-abiding firearms community and we are hearing really positive feedback from people as they come through today that they are finding the process works well for them.
He added more than 900 gun owners in the Canterbury region had registered to hand over 1,415 firearms.
According to the New Zealand Herald, Johnson also commented:
This law change doesn’t make people who’ve got these firearms bad. They’re good New Zealanders.
[We’re] encouraging them to come in and partake in the process during the six-month period, so that we honour the intent behind the legislation.
One unnamed gun owner admitted he didn’t have much faith going into the event but said he was happy with the money he got in exchange for his expensive gun.
I was selling my hunting firearm – it’s a semi-automatic. I got $13,000 for it. 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.
A police spokesperson said they only had one dispute over price and it was able to be peacefully resolved, though not everyone was content with having to hand over their weapons.
One person told the New Zealand Herald:
I think the Government is overreacting, and police are having to mop up the mess they’ve made.
Yesterday’s collection was the first of more than 250 which are set to be held across the country.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.