Christchurch shootings: New Zealanders hand over guns

New Zealand held its first gun buyback event on Saturday

New Zealand held its first gun buyback event on Saturday

More than 160 New Zealand gun owners have traded their weapons for cash, as part of a government buyback scheme enacted after the Christchurch massacre.

Regional police commander Mike Johnson said 903 gun owners in the Canterbury region, which includes Christchurch, had registered 1,415 firearms to be handed in.

New Zealanders handed in firearms as part of a scheme to rid the nation of semi-automatic weapons following the Christchurch mosque attacks on Saturday.

New Zealand lawmakers in April rushed through new legislation to ban so-called military-style weapons after a lone gunman killed 51 people at two Christchurch mosques in March.

Police said gun owners were compensated with a total of NZ$433,682 ($413,604), after 169 individuals handed in 224 prohibited firearms.

Parliament passed the gun reform law - the first substantial changes to New Zealand's gun laws in decades - by a vote of 119 to 1 in April.

He has pleaded not guilty to terrorism charges, as well as 51 counts of murder and 40 of attempted murder. The government has set aside more than NZ$200 million to buy back weapons such as AR-15 style rifles, although many gun owners remain unhappy with the compensation on offer.

Chris Cahill from the Police Association said he expects a positive response.

"Canterbury firearms owners" attitude towards this process has been outstanding'.

"We needed these semi-automatic assault rifles out of the community, but it's appropriate that people who have had to hand them in are compensated for it", he said.

Professor Kevin Clements from Otago University told ABC's The World program that general public opinion was "completely in favour" of the measures, despite complaints from gun owners.

Police Minister Stuart Nash said the objective was to "remove the most unsafe weapons from circulation".

Some 258 collection events will be held across New Zealand over the next three months, and police expect tens of thousands of guns to be surrendered.

Licenced firearms owners have six months to surrender weapons that have now been deemed illegal under the scheme, with an amnesty ensuring they will not face prosecution during that period.

After the amnesty expires, possession of a prohibited firearm will be punishable by up to five years in jail.

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