New Zealand Police on Saturday said that the first firearms buyback event was a success. Around 169 individuals handed in 224 prohibited firearms in the city of Christchurch, Reuters reported.
The buyback event was held in the wake of shootings at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15, in which 51 people were killed. The Christchurch attack was the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand. Within weeks, members of Parliament voted to change their gun laws, banning military-style semi-automatic weapons.
The event on Saturday is the first of 258 planned across the country until the end of the year. The buyback scheme will compensate those who own newly-banned semi-automatic weapons.
Police said gun owners were compensated a total of $2,90,133 (Rs 1.98 crore) on Saturday. The government has set aside $139.15 million (Rs 954 crore) for the scheme.
“Police recognise that this is a big change for the law-abiding firearms community and we are hearing really positive feedback from people as they come through today that they are finding the process works well for them,” acting Canterbury District Commander Mike Johnson said, according to New Zealand Herald.
Licensed firearms owners will have six months to surrender weapons that have now been declared illegal under the new gun laws. Firearm owners will not face prosecution during this period, following which possession of prohibited firearms is punishable by up to five years in jail, ABC News reported
Police Minister Stuart Nash said police knew of 14,300 registered military-style semi-automatic rifles and estimated 1.2 million firearms in the community, a vast majority of which are still legal under the new rules.