By: Robert Davis
Gun rights advocates in New Zealand are speaking out against their government’s gun buyback program, which targets firearms banned after the shootings at two Christchurch mosques that left dozens of worshipers dead.
NDTV reported that “Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Minister of Police Stuart Nash said in a joint emailed statement that NZ$208 million ($135.97 million) had been set aside to compensate owners of the banned semi-automatic firearms up to 95% of the original cost.”
Gun owners are saying, however, that the compensation they’re receiving is far below 95 percent.
"Some of the offered prices for higher-end firearms are well out of kilter. We're talking thousands of dollars," Nicole McKee, spokeswoman for the Council of Licensed Firearm Owners (COLFO), the largest gun rights advocacy group in New Zealand, told the New Zealand Herald. "It may get down to a point where we have to look at court action on behalf of our members, and that is something we will be looking at under advice from our lawyers."
COLFO is New Zealand’s equivalent of the National Rifle Association. McKee told the New Zealand Herald that she advised the 40,000 COLFO members to abide by the new law, but many of them have said they won’t turn in their now illegal firearms because the compensation in return is too low.
New Zealand police published a “Prohibited Firearms Buy-Back List” detailing how each firearm is valuated. Those that are in poor condition can expectedly return up to 25 percent of the original sale price. Fair condition can expect a 70 percent return while near-perfect condition receives a valuation of 95 percent.
But, even with those details being made public, gun advocates say they are being punished for crimes they haven’t committed.
"The component prices are horrible robbery,” David Tipple, owner of a local shooting range called Gun City, told the New Zealand Herald.
The laws created after the Christchurch massacre outlawed many semi-automatic weapons, so-called “large-capacity magazines,” and some shotguns. New laws also took some semi-automatic weapons out of the “Class A” registry, meaning they are more difficult for firearm owners to get.
After the buyback period ends, police plan to collect weapons from the community, a tactic which Nash described to NDTV as “a huge logistical exercise” that will begin around mid-July.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, said the government is also working on two bills that will create a national gun registry and expects to have an announcement ready about it in the next week or so.
Robert Davis is a general assignment reporter for Gunpowder Magazine. You can contact him with tips or comments at RobertDavis0414@gmail.com.