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New Zealand launches buyback scheme for semi-automatic weapons

CHRISTCHURCH: In the aftermath of the ban on semi-automatic after the deadly attack on Christchurch mosques, New Zealand’s Government has unveiled a multi-million-dollar six-month buyback scheme to compensate owners of semi-automatic weapons.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Minister of Police Stuart Nash said in a joint statement that NZ$208 million ($198 million) had been set aside to compensate owners of the banned semi-automatic firearms up to 95 per cent of the original cost.

The owners would have to hand over their weapons until December 20. New Zealand has about one firearm to every four people and no ban on semi-automatic weapons.

“Police have detailed plans in place for the next step, which is the collection of firearms from the community,” Mr Nash said.

“It will be a huge logistical exercise and is expected to get underway in mid-July.”

Parliament passed the gun reform law — the first substantial changes to the country’s gun laws in decades — by a vote of 119 to one in April.

The vote came less than a month after its worst-ever peacetime mass shooting in which 51 people were killed and dozens injured in attacks on two mosques in Christchurch.

The new ban bars the circulation and use of most semi-automatic firearms, parts that convert firearms into semi-automatic firearms, magazines over a certain capacity and some shotguns.

The Christchurch shooting has been described by New Zealand police as an attack by a “lone wolf” terrorist, but analysts say the motivations behind such attacks are not entirely ideologically isolated.

Existing gun laws had provided for a standard “A-category” gun license covering semi-automatics limited to seven shots.