New Zealand’s firearms buy-back scheme to strike fair balance: gov’t

WELLINGTON, June 20 (NNN-Xinhua) — Licensed firearms owners will get fair compensation for weapons handed in during the six-month buy-back and amnesty, New Zealand government announced on Thursday.

The fund available for the buy-back and amnesty has also increased by 40 million New Zealand dollars (26 million U.S. dollars) through a contribution from the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), which takes the total allocation for the scheme reach 208 million New Zealand dollars.

“The buy-back and amnesty has one objective: to remove the most dangerous weapons from circulation following the loss of life at Al Noor and Linwood mosques on March 15,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said at a press conference.

“The compensation scheme recognizes licensed firearms owners are now in possession of prohibited items through no fault of their own, but because of a law passed by almost the entire parliament,” Nash said.

The buy-back offer started on Thursday and runs for six months to Dec. 20. The amnesty to surrender firearms, parts, magazines and ammunition will also run until Dec. 20.

The buy-back price will reflect the brand, make and model of the prohibited firearm, its base price, and its condition, he said, adding that dealers will be compensated for stock.

A new option allows owners of some prohibited firearms to have them modified by approved gunsmiths to make them lawful, with costs up to 300 New Zealand dollars met by the crown, the minister said.

Police want to work closely with owners of prohibited items to help them comply with the law. Many gun owners are already playing their part to make the country a safer place, he added.

“The prohibition of military style semi-automatics was not directed at law-abiding people with legitimate uses for their guns. It was instead directed at making sure the events of March 15 never happen again,” Nash said.