New Zealand: First Round of Gun Return Begins

New Zealand has started the first of more than 250 gun buyback collections for banned military-style semi-automatic weapons in the wake of the Christchurch mosque massacres. Police said gun owners were compensated with a total of NZ$433,682 ($413,604), after 169 individuals handed in 224 prohibited firearms. The firearms collection event was set up just a few kilometres away from where a lone gunman opened fire at two Christchurch mosques in March, killing 51 people.

Some gun lobbyists urged firearms owners to bury their weapons. A total of 258 gun collection events will be held across New Zealand. The buyback scheme is expected to cost $207 million. Chris Cahill from the Police Association said he expects a positive response. “We needed these semi-automatic assault rifles out of the community, but it’s appropriate that people who have had to hand them in are compensated for it,” he said. But Nicole McKee from the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners said the compensation package was not fair and reasonable.

The general public opinion was “completely in favour” of the measures, despite complaints from gun owners. Some 258 collection events will be held across New Zealand over the next three months, and police expect tens of thousands of guns to be surrendered. Licensed firearms owners will have six months to surrender weapons.

> Alma Siddiqua



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