WELLINGTON, Jun 20, 2019, DW. A weapons buyback scheme officially went into effect in New Zealand Thursday. The gun reform law had passed in April in a 119-to-1 vote by parliament, reported the DW.
Police minister Stuart Nash said NZ$208 million ($137 million, €121 million) had been set aside to compensate owners of military-style semi-automatic (MSSA) weapons.
“The buyback and amnesty has one objective — to remove the most dangerous weapons from circulation following the loss of life at Al Noor and Linwood mosques,” said Nash, referring to the high-caliber bullets fired.
Owners have until December 20 to hand in the now prohibited weapons, receiving up to 95% of the wholesale price if new or near-new, 70% if used, and 25% for MSSAs in poor condition.
Beyond December 20, possession will be punishable by up to five years in jail.
Firearms ownership high
Police have estimated that 14,300 such guns exist in New Zealand, where in total at least 1.2 million firearms are kept.
Given its population of near 5 million, that makes it the 17th highest rate of civilian firearm ownership in the world, according to the Small Arms Survey.
The recent law change also banned parts that convert firearms into MSSAs.
A second batch of law change focused on gun licensing, owner registration and police vetting would be submitted to parliament in the next few weeks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced last Monday.
Not enough, says National
Opposition National Party leader Simon Bridges reportedly backs the buyback law but said the government hadnot put enough money aside to compensate MSSA owners.
Nicole McKee, spokesperson for the Council for Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO) told Radio New Zealand (RNZ) that some owners of higher-end firearms felt the scheme had been “grossly miscalculated,” adding: “a lot of them are telling us they are being ripped off.”
Wellington-based ammunition company head Paul Clark told RNZ that if gun owners could not get regress through New Zealand’s courts “the only alternative is revolution.”
Girl’s horrific wounds
Last week, Kuwait-born vascular surgeon and Christchurch Muslim community member Dr Adib Khanafer told New Zealand’s newspaper-sourced Stuff website about a four-year-old girl shot during the March 15 attacks.
Rushed to Christchurch Hospital, she arrived in the operating theater with no pulse and three bullet wounds, including one in the abdomen, said Khanafer, himself a father of four children.
“The look of the girl on the table was very painful for a father, and any surgeon, to see. I can’t find the words to describe how horrific it was,” he said in alengthy article also published by the Sydney Morning Herald.
The girl has been discharged since subsequently transferring to Auckland’s pediatric Starship Hospital, but is blind and receiving rehabilitation to walk, according to Stuff.