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Months After a Terrorist Attack, New Zealand Begins to Hand Over Its Guns

More than 900 gun owners have registered to hand over their firearms.

by Meera Navlakha
16 July 2019, 4:31am

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

On March 15, a terrorist killed 51 Muslims in two mosques at Christchurch, New Zealand. Just six days after the shooting took place, on March 21, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced massive gun reforms, which include a buyback scheme asking New Zealanders to hand over their semi-automatic weapons.

Following a ban that prohibited semiautomatic rifles and military-style weapons, the handovers are currently in the process of being implemented. The first of the collections took place on July 13 and more than 250 collections are expected to follow. About $300,000 was paid to 169 firearms owners. The weapons were subsequently destroyed.

The bill to ban guns immediately took place in parliament in April. Members of parliament voted in favor of prohibiting semiautomatic weapons and assault rifles – 119-1. Arden acknowledged the swift actions of her and the government as a whole.

“Within ten days of this horrific act of terrorism, we will have announced reforms which will, I believe, make our community safer,” she said. “The clear lesson from history around the world is that … the time to act is now.”

About 900 more gun owners in the Canterbury region of the country, located in the central-eastern South Island, have registered to submit their weapons. Over 1,415 firearms will be turned over.

Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, an unnamed gun owner stated that the process has been fairer than he initially perceived it would be.

“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.”

Others, however, found fault with the buyback.

Firearms owner Vincent Sanders told TV New Zealand he was offered $150 for his grandfather’s 100-year-old lever action 22. He said he would not be attending the handover.

“They’ve rushed through the entire process, they gave us two days for submissions,” said Sanders. “It’s criminal what they’ve done.”

“I think the government is overreacting and police are having to mop up the mess they’ve made,” another seller told the Herald.

Despite these comments, regional police commander Mike Johnson stated that the police have been “hearing really positive feedback from people.” He also said he was “ecstatic” by the turnout, where over 224 guns were given to the police.

The horrific attack, which continues to have rippling effects across Christchurch and New Zealand, brought forth this obvious need for change. Prime Minster Arden said as much in her initial statement regarding these reforms.

“On 15 March our history changed forever. Now, our laws will too.”

The government has promised about $138 million to the handback scheme.

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