New Zealand has seen only a fraction of weapons surrendered after its government passed restrictive gun control measures, including a buyback program, following March’s mosque shootings.
About 1,000 guns estimated to qualify as prohibited have reportedly been turned over to New Zealand authorities as part of the country’s gun buyback program as of July 4, according to Radio New Zealand.
Out of 1.2 to 1.5 million guns in New Zealand, the government said an estimated 13,500 firearms are military style semi-automatics, reported Reuters. (RELATED: New Zealand Begins Gun Buyback Program Enacted After Mosque Killings)
The gun rules that include a ban on assault-style guns and similar weapons were passed by New Zealand’s parliament in April in the wake of the March 15 mosque shootings in Christchurch that killed 51 people.
Gun owners have an amnesty period until Dec. 20 to turn them in for government compensation of up to 95% of their value, reported The Washington Post.
Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement said extra staff have been added in 12 police districts to handle the anticipated work.
“All we’re doing is making sure we’re agile enough to meet the demand, and if we’re not, we’ll change it up to make sure that we are,” he said.
The regulations face opposition, including a planned legal challenge from the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners, New Zealand’s leading gun lobby. The group plans to “take legal action, likely to be by way of a class action,” promised Secretary Nicole McKee, according to WaPo.
Three hundred gun collection events are planned for the next three months in various locations, including large sport stadiums. Authorities said they have informed registered firearm owners of the obligations, and have received 8,000 notifications of surrender through an online registration process, according to Radio New Zealand.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has vowed to pass additional gun control laws, including a national firearms registry and a more comprehensive background check.
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