New Zealand's first gun buyback event a success, police say

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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.

"Police recognise that this is a big change for the law abiding firearms community and we are hearing really positive feedback from people as they come through today that they are finding the process works well for them".

Yesterday 169 gun owners handed in a total of 224 prohibited firearms, and 217 parts and accessories - as a result of legislation passed after the mosque attacks in the city.

The first of more than 250 collections to be held nationwide was in Christchurch, where 51 Muslim worshippers were gunned down while at prayer less than four months ago.

Within weeks, members of Parliament voted to change their gun laws, banning military-style semi-automatic weapons.

More than 900 gun owners in the Canterbury region had registered to hand over 1,415 firearms, he added.

Delivering an emotional speech to parliament in April, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: "I can not imagine circumstances where that is more necessary than it is now".

A new option allows owners of some prohibited firearms to have them modified by approved gunsmiths to make them lawful, with costs up to NZ$300.

"It happened so quickly that there was no democratic process involved and there were no discussions involved with the community that had been affected", she said.

Under the buyback scheme, gun owners are compensated between 25 percent and 95 percent of the pre-tax price of a new gun, depending on the condition of their weapon. Police said a half-dozen such weapons were turned in during the Christchurch event.

The buyback event will continue on Sunday at the same venue.

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

"The reality is we have got twice as many weapons per capita as you have in Australia and six times as many as exists in the United Kingdom so on a per capita basis New Zealand is a fairly overgunned society".

The Australian man accused of the Christchurch shootings has denied 51 charges of murder, 40 counts of attempted murder and a terrorism charge.

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