New Zealand gun owners hand over weapons after mosque killings

The first of more than 250 collections to be held nationwide was held in Christchurch

The government has set aside more than Dollars 139 million (NZ$200 million) to buy back weapons such as AR-15 style rifles, although many gun owners remain unhappy with the compensation on offer.

"This weekend has been a great success but we are fully aware that this is just the start of what will be a six-month process", Acting Canterbury District Commander Mike Johnson said.

Australian-born Brenton Tarrant has been charged with the Christchurch mosque killings and is alleged to have used an arsenal of five weapons, including two military-style semi-automatic rifles, in the attacks on two mosques.

Police said 169 firearms owners handed in a total of 224 prohibited firearms, and 217 parts and accessories, with $433,682 compensated.

Saturday's handover in Christchurch was the first of more than 250 collections to be held across the country.

In excess of 900 weapon proprietors in the Canterbury area had enlisted to hand more than 1,415 guns, he included.

Police said at least 14,000 guns around the country are banned under the new legislation.

One gun owner, who requested anonymity, was pleased with the NZ$13,000 (£6,900) he received for his semi-automatic hunting firearm. The money was paid directly into the bank accounts of gun owners.

"It happened so quickly that there was no democratic process involved and there were no discussions involved with the community that had been affected", she said.

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.

The government said the law would remove the most unsafe guns from the community.

"We needed these semi-automatic assault rifles out of the community, but it's appropriate that people who have had to hand them in are compensated for it", he said. Police said a half-dozen such weapons were turned in during the Christchurch event.

Some 258 collection events will be held across New Zealand over the next three months, and police expect tens of thousands of guns to be surrendered.

Nicole McKee is a spokesperson for New Zealand's Council of Licensed Firearms Owners.

The Christchurch attack was the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand.



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