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New Zealand's Plan To Buy Back Illegal Firearms Angers Gun Advocates

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New Zealand Minister of Police Stuart Nash announces government decisions around the firearms buy-back and amnesty at Parliament on Thursday in Wellington.
Masanori Udagawa, Getty Images

New Zealand Minister of Police Stuart Nash announces government decisions around the firearms buy-back and amnesty at Parliament on Thursday in Wellington.

Gun advocates in New Zealand are angry over a government plan aimed at buying back now-illegal firearms and magazines that were outlawed after a mass shooting in March that killed dozens of worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch.

Details of the plan were released on Thursday at a news conference in the capital, Wellington, after the country's gun laws were amended in April to ban most military-style semi-automatics, magazines that hold more than five rounds of ammunition, and gun parts, such as special sights and silencers.

The new law gives gun owners until Sept. 30 to hand over prohibited firearms and accessories to licensed dealers or police.

However, the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners, or COLFO, a firearms advocacy group similar to the U.S.-based National Rifle Association, has opposed the changes, referring on its website to the government's "knee jerk reaction" to the Christchurch shootings.

The organization has threatened legal action against the government for what it says are unfair prices being offered for now-illegal firearms.

"Some of the offered prices for higher-end firearms are well out of kilter," Nicole McKee, a council spokesman, was quoted by The New Zealand Herald as saying.

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McKee said gun owners are "angry and they're frustrated" because the government reneged on a promise not "to rip us off."

"They said they would pay full value. They're not, and 250,000 [firearms license holders] are starting to feel ripped off," she said.

The proposed buyback scheme covers 300 guns. It offers a percentage of the value of the firearms based on their age and condition "as advised by New Zealand firearms experts before the law change." The payment ranges from 95% of the prescribed value for guns in "near or near-new" condition to 25% for firearms in poor or inoperable condition. For gun parts, including silencers, open sights and custom triggers, the buyback offers 70% of base price for new or used and 25% if they are in poor condition.

COLFO also objects to the fact that the government will not compensate gun sellers for the money they are likely to lose in the buyback. Dealers can cash in existing stock, but they will get the same government price for firearms as individuals get.

"The component prices are horrible robbery," David Tipple, who owns a gun shop where the Christchurch shooter bought weapons, tells the Herald.

Tipple says he expects to lose "tens of thousands of dollars" in the buyback. Even so, he encourages owners to hand in their illegal weapons.

"We want them to comply," he said. "Let's get them paid quickly so we can get compliance. Nobody wants a black market."

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