Wellington, Aug 12 (IANS) More than 10,000 firearms have been bought by New Zealand’s government as part of its gun buyback scheme following the Christchurch mosque shootings in March that killed 51 people.
Following the shootings at two mosques by an Australian white supremacist, New Zealand’s Parliament pushed through a ban on semi-automatic weapons and a buy-back scheme to encourage people to voluntarily give up their weapons.
The gun reform law, passed in April, also banned parts that are able to convert weapons into semi-automatics, magazines over a certain capacity and some shotguns.
As of Sunday, more than 7,000 gun owners had attended more than 90 collection events around the country, relinquishing a total of 10,242 firearms for compensation and another 1,269 under an amnesty, a New Zealand Police spokesperson told Australia’s SBS News.
The first collection event was held in Christchurch, the location where Muslim worshippers were gunned down at two mosques by Australian national Brenton Tarrant on March 15.
The New Zealand government has set aside $200 million to compensate gun owners for up to 95 per cent of the weapon’s original cost.
Gun owners have until December 20 to hand back their weapons, at which point the buy-back scheme and amnesty period will end.
Announcing the gun reform days after the attack, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack” would be banned.
“We are confident as a government that the vast majority of New Zealanders will support this change,” she said.
Anyone found with semi-automatic guns after the amnesty period ends will face fines of up to $4,000 and three years’ in jail.
In a statement, the New Zealand police praised gun owners’ engagement with the process, and said they were “really happy” with the public response.