More than 10,000 firearms have been voluntarily surrendered to authorities in New Zealand as part of the government’s gun buyback program launched last month in response to the March mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch.
The initiative, which kicked off on July 13 and will last through Dec. 20, allows owners of semiautomatic weapons and parts banned following the Christchurch attack to exchange them for money. More than 250 gun collection events have been planned around the country during the program’s first three months.
A total of 10,242 firearms had been turned over to police as of Sunday and another 1,269 had been handed in under an amnesty that’s part of the program, New Zealand police said in a statement. Under amnesty, gun owners can surrender their firearms with no questions from police about when or how they acquired the now-banned weapons ― even if they don’t have a license for them.
Over 7,000 firearms owners have attended the dozens of buyback events that have been held so far, New Zealand police said.
Six days after a white nationalist allegedly opened fire at the two mosques in Christchurch, killing 51 people, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern banned military-style semiautomatic weapons and made illegal the sale of high-capacity magazines and gun accessories such as bump stocks.
“I absolutely believe there will be a common view amongst New Zealanders, those who use guns for legitimate purposes, and those who have never touched one, that the time for the mass and easy availability of these weapons must end,” she said at the time.
To rid the newly banned weapons and items from the public, Arden announced the gun buyback program, which is expected to cost upwards of $200 million.
New Zealand, with a population of roughly 4.8 million, harbors an estimated 1.2 million guns, The New York Times reported last month.
Australia confiscated more than 650,000 guns in the 1990s as part of a mandatory gun buyback program instituted after a mass shooting in Tasmania that left 35 people dead.
Several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, including former Vice President Joe Biden and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke of Texas, have called for a federal gun buyback program of some sort in the U.S.