In the wake of the Christchurch massacure the New Zealand’s Government has launched a multi-million-dollar, six-month buyback scheme to compensate owners of semi-automatic firearms.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Minister of Police Stuart Nash said in a joint emailed statement that NZ$208 million ($198 million) had been set aside to compensate owners of the banned semi-automatic firearms up to 95 per cent of the original cost.
Gun advocates in New Zealand are angry over a government plan aimed at buying back now-illegal firearms and magazines that were outlawed after a mass shooting in March.
However, theCouncil of Licensed Firearms Owners, or COLFO, a firearms advocacy group similar to the U.S.-based National Rifle Association, has opposed the changes, referring on its website to the government’s “knee jerk reaction” to the Christchurch shootings.
The organization has threatened legal action against the government for what it says are unfair prices being offered for now-illegal firearms.
Existing gun laws had provided for a standard “A-category” gun license covering semi-automatics limited to seven shots.
Police estimated around 14,300 military-style semi-automatics would be covered by the new legislation, though the Government said it was difficult to predict the exact number.
Almost 700 weapons had already been handed in before the compensation scheme was launched and almost 5,000 had been registered by owners with police while they awaited collection.
“There is high uncertainty around any [costs], owing to the lack of information on the number of prohibited items, their type and condition,” Mr Robertson said, adding that better estimates of the total cost would be available once the buyback was underway and the Government would top up the amount if needed.
The ABC reported the Government has also begun work on a second arms amendment bill to tackle other issues including a gun registry.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told reporters on Monday that she expected the Government to announce its plans for the law in the next few weeks.
With a population of just under 5 million, New Zealand is home to an estimated 1.5 million firearms, making it the country with the 17th highest rate of civilian firearm ownership in the world, according to the Small Arms Survey.