Gun buyback over, next phase underway

  • Hon Stuart Nash

The Minister of Police has thanked around 33,000 firearms owners for helping make New Zealand a safer place by participating in the gun buyback.

“The six-month firearms buyback and amnesty drew to a close last night and Police were processing some latecomers well into the evening,” Stuart Nash said.

“When we started the buy-back and amnesty we had one objective, to make our country a safer place. We focused on the type of assault rifles, high-capacity firearms and military style semi-automatics used in the terror attack forty weeks ago, on 15 March. 

“We are now moving to the next phase, to ensure firearms cannot fall into the wrong hands. This is the objective of the proposed gun register and tighter licensing system. We are not done with efforts to remove unlawful firearms from circulation.

“The firearms buyback was unprecedented in New Zealand history. Provisional figures are still subject to final reconciliation in the New Year. But the numbers so far are:

  • Around 60,907 prohibited firearms have been removed from circulation or are pending collection, as follows:
    • 56,250 handed in during the buyback or amnesty
    • 2,717 modified by approved gunsmiths, at government expense, to make them lawful
    • 1,577 prohibited firearms are awaiting validation and collection from gun dealers
    • 363 unique prohibited firearms are going through an independent valuation panel to determine compensation
  • A further 2,874 applications for prohibited firearms to be modified by approved gunsmiths are still being processed
  • More than 194,245 prohibited parts have been handed in. This includes items like high-capacity magazines and pistol grips which can be assembled into working firearms
  • A further 3,499 unique prohibited parts are going through an independent valuation panel process for compensation
  • Around 33,619 hand-ins were completed, some of these were repeat visits
  • Approximately $102.2 million paid in compensation
  • Police also confirm they can account for 15,037 E-category firearms or military style semi-automatics held by 5,060 people, slightly higher than original estimates of 14,300 MSSAs, as follows:
    • 9,532 firearms have been handed in
    • 4,277 firearms have been retained by approximately 1,049 people such as professional pest controllers, bona fide collectors, gun dealers, museums, or others who notified their intention to hand in over the past few days. Some of this group have sought exemptions and special P-endorsements on their licences.
    • 1,228 firearms are held by 851 people who Police have contacted or attempted to contact for follow up. This group has technical issues which need to be reconciled. Some firearms serial numbers are showing as already handed in but possibly by a different owner. Some owners are reported as deceased. Other people now report their firearms were lost or stolen and these are being reviewed or investigated.
    • Every current licence holder registered with an MSSA has been contacted by Police.
  • Some large stock holdings of gun dealers are still being processed. Gun dealers have gone through a separate process to members of the public. Dealers notify Police of their holdings which are then reviewed to ensure details are valid before compensation is approved.
  • There were 685 collection points, either at public events, private sessions at gun clubs, or through gun dealers’ premises. Police also visited more than 270 homes and other locations for bulk pick-ups or where people had transport difficulties.

“I want to thank Police for their hard work in carrying out this huge logistical exercise. I am grateful for the commitment, professionalism and empathy shown towards firearms owners by all Police staff,” Mr Nash says.

“Firearms owners did not need a lot of convincing to do the right thing. More than 5,000 firearms were handed in or declared for surrender before the buyback and amnesty even officially got underway in June.

“The number of firearms handed in or still being processed is within the range estimated by KPMG, who provided independent advice to Police.

“However Police have consistently warned the problem is we just don’t know exactly how many guns are out in the community. This is why we need a register, to enable Police to better track firearms.

“Police are now preparing to follow up firearms licence holders who are known to still hold prohibited guns. My strong advice to these people is to voluntarily surrender them or face risk of prosecution, loss of licence and firearms, and five years jail.

“Police will also keep up their focus on gangs and other criminals who unlawfully hold firearms. Around 1800 firearms have been seized from gangs and other offenders since March, during search warrants, vehicle stops, and callouts to family harm incidents.

“If anyone has concerns about someone with a banned firearm, they can alert Police by calling ten-five (105) or anonymously through Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111,” Mr Nash said.