Police in New Zealand said Monday that as of Sunday, 10,242 firearms have been surrendered under a government gun-buyback program launched July 13, and another 1,269 have been turned in under a no-questions-asked amnesty. New Zealand's Parliament banned most automatic and semiautomatic weapons in April, on a vote of 119 to 1, following the murder of 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch in March. The suspect, a white nationalist who has pleaded not guilty, purchased his weapons legally in New Zealand after getting a gun license in 2017.
The gun buyback scheme was signed into law in June, and since its launch in July, police have held more than 90 events around the country, attended by 7,180 gun owners, police said. "We have been really happy with New Zealand's engagement and response to this process and we look forward to more people taking part in the buyback scheme over the coming months." The buyback program, expected to cost up to $200 million, sets fixed prices for each type of firearm, high-capacity magazine, and parts that convert firearms into semi-automatic weapons.
Gun owners have until Dec. 20 to hand over the banned weapons. There are no hard numbers for how many guns are in New Zealand and how many of them are automatic or semi-automatic — you have to register to own a firearm in New Zealand but don't register your weapons — but police estimate that there are 1.2 million to 1.4 million guns in circulation. Australia held a gun buyback program after a gunman killed 35 people in 1996, and about 640,000 newly banned weapons were recovered, CNN reports.