- New Zealand authorities reportedly collected more than 50,000 semi-automatic guns in a government buyback program.
- The ban on most types of semi-automatic weapons was passed by lawmakers within 28 days of the country’s worst massacre in history.
- Fifty people were killed in March when a gunman targeted two mosques. Lawmakers condemned the attack and vowed immediate action when it was revealed the gunman obtained his gun legally.
- Some critics of the program said it was flawed and that owners could still be harbouring guns illegally amid frustrations over the government’s response to the deadly attack.
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The Associated Press reports that critics said the process was flawed and some owners would illegally hide their firearms despite the ban, which applied to most types of semi-automatic weapons.
Initial figures indicated that 33,000 people handed in 51,000 guns, in addition to 5,000 more as part of an amnesty provision that would also involve payment for the firearm, according to the AP. Additionally, 2,700 guns were modified to make them legally compliant.
Police told the outlet that 1,800 were confiscated from gangs since March, and authorities collected 1,600 more from gun dealers.
The country was lauded for its response to the Christchurch shooting that killed 50 people, which passed through legislative bodies in 28 days. The program was expected to cost anywhere between $NZ100 million to $NZ200 million ($US69 million to $US138 million).
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at the final reading of the legislation in April that she felt authorities had to move quickly after Police Commissioner Mike Bush told her that the gunman had obtained his weapon within the law.
A 28-year-old Australian man and suspected white supremacist was charged with carrying out the massacre.
The horrific nature of the shooting, which targeted two mosques, was a key talking point for legislators who condemned guns and vowed action shortly after the shooting. However, Nicole McKee, a spokeswoman for the advocacy group Council of Licensed Firearms Owners, told the AP that legal owners were frustrated at the government’s response and were not satisfied with the offered compensation.
“They never overcame being blamed by authorities for being somehow responsible for a heinous act of terrorism – something they would never do,” McKee said in a statement, according to the AP.
Before the ban, Insider previously reported that the government said there were 245,000 firearms licenses in circulation in New Zealand, and about 1.2 to 1.5 million in total.
The program’s announcement even sparked support from US lawmakers, including Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who said the swift legislation was “what leadership looks like.”
New Zealand’s response stands in contrast to the spate of gun violence in America, where around 40% of the world’s gun owners reside and around 11,000 people are killed annually in firearm assault.