WELLINGTON (BLOOMBERG) - New Zealand has opened a six-month firearms buyback and amnesty in a bid to rid the country of the sort of semi-automatic weapons used in the March 15 massacre that left 51 people dead.
"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 on March 15," Police Minister Stuart Nash said in a statement on Thursday (June 20) in Wellington.
"The compensation scheme recognises 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."
Within days of a lone gunman opening fire on worshippers at two Christchurch mosques, the worst massacre in modern New Zealand history, the government banned military style semi-automatics and assault rifles.
It has allocated NZ$208 million (S$186 million) for the gun buyback, NZ$40 million more than initially envisaged, it said on Thursday. That includes NZ$18 million for administration.
"There is high uncertainty around any costings, owing to the lack of information on the number of prohibited items, their type and condition," Finance Minister Grant Robertson said in the statement.
"Better information will be forthcoming once the buyback is under way and volumes and conditions of firearms are clearer. If we need to top up the funding,we will."
Compensation for prohibited firearms will be 95 per cent of the base price for those in new or near-new condition, 70 per cent for those in used condition and 25 per cent for those in poor condition. Dealers will be compensated for stock.
There are about 14,300 military style semi-automatics registered with police that are now all prohibited weapons. There are also more than 1.1 million rifles and shotguns in the community, most of which are not prohibited, the government estimates.
While the buyback offer begins on Thursday, Mr Nash said collecting the guns will be a "huge logistical exercise and is expected to get under way in mid-July".
There will be four options for collection: large-scale events at centralised community locations, handing over items at approved gun dealers, bulk pickups by police, and delivery to a police station, which is the least preferred option.