Cantabrians hand in 542 firearms in one weekend

New Zealand Gun Buyback

New Zealand: 224 Guns Turned Over in 'Buy-Back' Event

New Zealand Police on Saturday said that the first firearms buyback event was a success.

"The government has put aside more than $200 million for payments and administration of the gun buyback and amnesty".

There's been a high security presence as armed police monitor and usher in gun owners - many accompanied by their partners - who have come to hand over their semi-automitic weapons.

"A bit disappointed yeah, it would be pretty hard for someone to say they aren't disappointed because a lot of people just enjoy it in general and they just feel a bit discriminated [against] and the way it's betrayed that we are the bad guys", Mr Agnew said.

"It's been a great start and we want to say thank you to those Canterbury firearms owners that have taken part already".

Regional police commander Mike Johnson said 903 gun owners in the Canterbury region, which includes Christchurch, had registered 1,415 firearms to be handed in. There are an estimated 1 million to 1.5 million guns in New Zealand and 250,000 licensed gun owners.

The buyback scheme will compensate those who own newly-banned semi-automatic weapons.

He praised police staff for their efforts in running the event, which he said ran smoothly.

A new option allows owners of some prohibited firearms to have them modified by approved gunsmiths to make them lawful, with costs up to NZ$300.

Police Minister Stuart Nash said the results from the first collection were very encouraging.

She said gun owners were forced to rely on police assessments of the condition of their guns and weren't getting paid anything for the thousands of dollars they had spent on tax as well as certain accessories and ammunition.

She said the group wasn't in communication with the NRA, other than receiving a note of sympathy from the USA organization after the March attacks.

In the aftermath of the shooting, New Zealand's parliament voted 119-1 to pass a bill banning most semiautomatic weapons, as well as parts that allow lower-powered firearms to modified into higher-powered ones.At the bill's final reading, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has garnered global recognition for her swift response to the shooting, gave an impassioned speech.

She said some of the gun owners complaints about getting short-changed or treated badly appeared to have some merit, and that "wasn't a good look" for the government. The alleged gunman is now facing 51 charges of murder, 40 charges of attempted murder and one charge of engaging in a terrorist act.

The Christchurch event is one of 258 events that will run across the country over the next three months.

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