The government’s gun buy-back scheme has officially kicked off.
The scheme – created as a response to the Christchurch shootings – saw almost $1.5 million worth of guns and gun parts handed in over the inter-semester break.
A number of gun buy-back ‘events’ were held by the police in districts all across the South Island. Owners of recently-blacklisted semi-automatic weapons were encouraged to journey to these events, where they could hand in their weapons in exchange for monetary compensation.
The first gun buy-back event took place in Christchurch’s Riccarton Racecourse, on the 13th of July. One hundred and sixty-nine gun owners were processed at the event, with more than two hundred guns, and two hundred gun parts, handed in. Police Minister Stuart Nash says he was encouraged by the turn-out, and the willingness of gun-owners to participate in the scheme. “We have consistently acknowledged the vast majority of firearms owners are law-abiding,” he told NZ Herald, “They have done nothing wrong. The law changed and now they hold prohibited weapons. This was never aimed at them. It was designed to ensure the events of March 15 in Christchurch do not happen again.”
While many have expressed support for the scheme, there has been some opposition. In particular, ACT’s David Seymour has criticised the buy-buy-back as being little more than “political theatre”. “People who are prepared to line up in the full public glare and hand in their firearms at below-market rates are not the people we should be worried about,” he told Newshub. Seymour was the only MP to vote against blacklisting semi-automatic weapons – or, at least, he would have been, had he not missed the hearing for the bill.
The scheme is similar to one adopted by Australia in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Although initially criticised, the Australian scheme saw the rate of mass shootings drop from one every year and a half (pre-1996) to one every twenty years (post-1996). Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Clement is confident the Christchurch buy-back will have similar levels of success. “If we take tens of thousands of firearms off the streets during the next six months, then I absolutely think New Zealand has to be a safer place,” he told Newshub.
Those interested in depositing weapons can do so in one of four ways: by visiting a gun buy-back event; by handing over the weapons at an approved gun dealer; by asking the police to collect the weapons in bulk; or by visiting a police station. Gun owners will be paid back 95% of the baes price if it is new or in near-new condition, 70% if it is in used condition, or 25% if in poor condition.