Next steps in firearms buy-back
The next steps in the Government’s firearms reform programme to include a three-month buy-back have been announced.
“The last buy-back and amnesty was unprecedented for New Zealand and was successful in collecting 60,297 firearms, modifying a further 5630 firearms, and collecting 299,837 prohibited parts and magazines," says Police Minister Poto Williams.
"We are resolute in ensuring our firearms reform programme is stopping firearms falling into the wrong hands.”
Williams says this next amnesty and buy-back is about removing further firearms and arms items that were prohibited and restricted through the Arms Legislation Act 2020 which passed in June 2020.
“Once this group of firearms came to the Government’s attention, it was clear we had to act again to ensure all the good work done to keep our communities safe last year was not compromised.
“The Government has allocated $15.5 million for compensation and administrative costs, noting that this buy-back is on a much smaller scale than 2019."
This year’s buy-back will look very different to the one in 2019 as there will be no large-scale collection events.
Police will be managing the smaller buy-back through appointments at Police stations.
The central elements of the scheme are:
• The amnesty is in place for six months until 1 August 2021.
• The buy-back compensation period will start on 1 February and end on 1 May.
• Standard compensation must be applied for within those 90 days.
• Applications for compensation for unique specified items must be made within 60 days.
• The buy-back price will reflect the brand, make, and model of the prohibited firearm; its base price; and its condition.
• A price list will be published today by Police.
• The compensation for newly prohibited firearms and pistol carbine conversion kits will be 95 per cent of base price for those in new or near-new condition; 70 per cent of base price for those in used condition; and 25 per cent of base price for those in poor condition.
• The compensation for parts of these items will be 70 per cent of base price for those in near new or used condition; and 25 per cent of base price for those in poor condition.
• Compensation for newly prohibited firearms will only be paid to those with a valid firearms licence.
• Dealers and manufacturers will be compensated for stock. Applications must be made within 60 days (and supporting evidence then provided within 20 days).
• Hand ins will take place at Police stations by appointment – given the much smaller number of firearms expected this time.
• Applications for endorsements to possess and use prohibited firearms and pistol carbine conversion kits can be submitted now and must be submitted within 60 days (by 2 April 2021) of the start of the buy-back.
• There will be no modifications allowed for this group of prohibited firearms.
“Police will publish more information on their website today to provide people with more details on how the buy-back will operate," says Williams
“Having a firearms licence is a privilege, not a right. I know most of our firearms community are responsible law-abiding citizens who have only good intent. However, our laws need to be robust enough to prevent firearms getting into the wrong hands."
National Party police spokesperson Simeon Brown is calling the government's buy-back scheme a "markting exercise".
He says the increased number of firearms incidents we’ve seen across the country recently shows why the Government’s focus needs to be on gangs and criminals, not another gun buyback.
“The first gun buyback was merely a marketing exercise. After spending $103 million on the scheme, the Government couldn’t even confirm whether it had made New Zealand safer or if it had collected all prohibited firearms.
“That’s because most law-abiding New Zealanders handed in their now-prohibited firearms, but gangs and criminals, those who pose the greatest risk to our safety, did not.
“This isn’t news to Police Minister Poto Williams either, last year she said she didn’t expect criminals to follow the law. National would be very interested then to know what her plan is to take their firearms off them.
“The Police themselves estimated there could be as many as 180,000 now illegal firearms still floating around, but we will never know the exact number because even if a firearms register is put in place, those prohibited firearms will never appear in it.
“Rather than continuing to punish law-abiding New Zealanders, the Minister should pick up our Firearm Prohibitions Orders Bill which gives police more powers to search and take firearms off gang members.
"That’s where the focus should be."