Safety focus for firearms buy-back events

  • Hon Stuart Nash

The need to ensure high levels of public safety is the focus of plans revealed today for the first firearms collections during the buy-back and amnesty.

Police have publicly demonstrated how a community collection of firearms will work in practice, during an exercise at Trentham racecourse in the Hutt Valley.

Police Minister Stuart Nash says he is confident Police are doing everything they can to ensure the process to collect unlawful weapons, parts and ammunition is run securely and efficiently.

“There has been a noticeable increase in the number of firearms handed in or declared since the buy-back details were announced. It is clear that everybody is playing a part to make the country safe,” Mr Nash says.

“More than 840 firearms have now been handed in to Police. Owners have declared their intention to surrender almost 8000 further firearms, via online forms. Around 3000 of these  weapons are not for compensation but are being surrendered as part of the amnesty.

“In addition more than 1300 unlawful firearms have been seized by Police during enforcement operations since March. Many of these weapons are from gangs and offenders without firearms licences.

“Police have spent months planning the best way to safely collect, secure and dispose of prohibited firearms and parts. This is a huge logistical exercise which has never been attempted before in New Zealand.

“Reports from provincial towns such as Blenheim, Ashburton, Te Awamutu and larger centres like Christchurch indicate the process for collecting firearms is reasonably well understood. Many have already been handed in across Southland and Otago.

“I am grateful to groups like Federated Farmers, Rural Women, the Deerstalkers Association and dealer networks, who are also doing their bit to inform and educate people.

“Collections at local community centres are the preferred way to safely gather guns and other items. We know firearms owners are busy people and just want to get the handover done with minimum fuss.

“Police want to make it as safe and straightforward as possible for firearms owners to take part. They also want to prioritise safety for the frontline officers and others involved in the process.

“They are working closely with firearms owners to help them comply with the law. Owners are encouraged to prepare beforehand to ensure it goes smoothly.

“Most details can be completed online. Firearms owners should turn up with their reference number, bank account details, firearms licence and photo id. The firearm should be cleared of ammunition and in a safe carry bag.

“Where appropriate, firearms will be disabled soon after collection and then transported for secure destruction. Police have purchased hydraulic presses designed and built by a fifth-generation family engineering business in Christchurch to assist with this work.

“The prohibition of military style semi-automatics was not directed at the vast majority of law abiding firearms owners. It was designed to ensure a terror attack like that on 15 March can never happen again,” Mr Nash says.

Almost 200 buyback events have been organised for the first three months of the amnesty, from the Far North to Stewart Island. More dates will be confirmed for the second half of the amnesty, up to 20 December.

The first collection event will be Saturday 13 July at Riccarton Racecourse in Christchurch. Updates to the buy-back and amnesty can be found on the Police website.