By Alison Bevege
SYDNEY (Reuters) – New Zealanders have handed over more than 10,000 guns, weapons parts and accessories in the first week of a buy-back scheme prompted by the country’s worst peacetime mass shooting, police figures released on Sunday show.
A gun reform law passed in April banned most semi-automatic firearms, parts that convert firearms into semi-automatics, magazines over a certain capacity and some shotguns.
Owners have until Dec. 20 to hand in their weapons and the government has set aside NZ$208 million ($140.63 million) to compensate them for up to 95% of the original cost.
The buy-back comes four months after a lone gunman with semi-automatic weapons attacked Muslims attending Friday prayers in Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island, killing 51 people.
More than 2,000 people have surrendered 3,275 firearms, 7,827 parts and accessories and in return authorities have paid them slightly more than NZ$6 million ($4.06 million) since the buy-back began last Saturday, a police spokesperson told Reuters by telephone on Sunday.
Police said they were pleased with the turnout on Sunday, as 684 people handed in 1,061 guns and 3,397 parts and accessories at events across the country.
Police superintendent Karyn Malthus said hundreds of firearms had been surrendered in Auckland.
“The feedback from firearms owners at the event has been very positive,” she said in an emailed statement.
Media reported on Wednesday that Christchurch residents were upset about the proposed opening of a Gun City mega store in the city.
Brenton Tarrant, accused of the March 15 killings, bought four weapons and ammunition from the Gun City chain online from December 2017 to March 2018, owner David Tipple said in March.
Tarrant, due to stand trial in May, has pleaded not guilty to 92 charges over the attacks, including New Zealand’s first terrorism charge.
With a population of just under 5 million and an estimated total of 1.5 million firearms, New Zealand ranks 17th in the world in terms of civilian firearm ownership, the Small Arms Survey shows.
(Editing by Nick Macfie)