Firearms buy-back scheme strikes fair balance

Published: Thu 20 Jun 2019 10:29 AM
Hon Grant Robertson
Minister of Finance
Hon Stuart Nash
Minister of Police
Licensed firearms owners will get fair compensation for weapons handed in during the six-month buy-back and amnesty, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Police Minister Stuart Nash announced today.
The fund available for the buy-back and amnesty has also increased by $40 million through a contribution from ACC. The total set aside for the scheme is now over $200 million.
“The buy-back and amnesty has one objective: to remove the most dangerous weapons from circulation following the loss of life at Al-Noor and Linwood mosques on 15 March,” Stuart Nash says.
“The compensation scheme recognises licensed firearms owners are now in possession of prohibited items through no fault of their own, but because of a law passed by almost the entire Parliament,” Mr Nash says.
The central elements of the scheme are:
• The buy-back offer starts today and runs for six months to 20 December;
• The amnesty to surrender firearms, parts, magazines and ammunition will run until 20 December;
• The buy-back price will reflect the brand, make and model of the prohibited firearm; its base price; and its condition.
• An extensive price list will be published today by Police;
• The compensation for prohibited firearms will be 95 per cent of base price for those in new or near-new condition; 70 per cent of base price for those in used condition; and 25 per cent of base price for those in poor condition;
• The compensation for prohibited parts and magazines will be 70 per cent of base price for those in near new or used condition; and 25 per cent of base price for those in poor condition;
• Compensation for prohibited firearms will only be paid to those with a valid firearms licence. Compensation for prohibited parts and magazines will not require a valid licence;
• Dealers will be compensated for stock;
• A new option allows owners of some prohibited firearms to have them modified by approved gunsmiths to make them lawful, with costs up to $300 met by the Crown;
• Owners of unique or rare prohibited items may apply for compensation;
• Four options for handing in prohibited firearms will be available in the community.
“We have already set aside $150 million for the buy-back, based on officials’ initial advice. The ACC Board has also agreed to allocate $40 million in recognition the buy-back scheme is likely to contribute to a reduction in the severity and incidence of injuries from the prohibited firearms,” Grant Robertson says.
“There is high uncertainty around any costings, owing to the lack of information on the number of prohibited items, their type and condition. Better information will be forthcoming once the buy-back is underway and volumes and conditions of firearms are clearer. As I stated on Budget day, if we need to top up the funding we will,” Grant Robertson says.
“The approach to prices balances fair compensation for people’s firearms and a fair cost for the tax payer. Police sought independent advice from KPMG to develop the price list. KPMG consulted farmers, hunters, dealers, auctioneers and gun clubs, Mr Nash says.
“The contribution from ACC takes the total allocation for the buy-back and amnesty to $208 million, which includes $18 million for administration.
“Police have detailed plans in place for the next step, which is the collection of firearms from the community. It will be a huge logistical exercise and is expected to get underway in mid-July,” Mr Nash says.
“Police want to work closely with owners of prohibited items to help them comply with the law. Many gun owners are already playing their part to make the country a safer place.
“There will be four options for collection: large-scale events at centralised community locations; handing over items at approved gun dealers; bulk pickups by Police; and at Police stations. Delivery to a Police station is the least preferred option.
“The Police preference is for people to hand-in firearms, parts, magazines and ammunition at the large community events. This will be the most effective and efficient approach. Until then, firearms owners should keep their items safe and secure.
“I want to reiterate what the Government has made clear from the beginning. The prohibition of military style semi-automatics was not directed at law-abiding people with legitimate uses for their guns. It was instead directed at making sure the events of 15 March never happen again,” Mr Nash says.
• A3 graphic: Preparing for hand-in (Police document)
• A3 graphic: Amnesty and buy-back operation (Police document)
Questions and Answers
1. How many firearms are likely to be collected during the buyback and amnesty?
Police only have estimates of the number of firearms in the community. It is estimated the total number of all weapons, both lawful and prohibited, is approximately 1.2 million. The number of newly prohibited firearms will be a lot smaller than this total figure.
• There are approximately 14,300 military style semi-automatics registered with Police. These are now all prohibited weapons.
• There are an estimated 760,000 rifles in the community. It is estimated that the vast majority are not prohibited.
• There are an estimated 380,000 shotguns in the community. It is estimated that the vast majority are not prohibited.
• There are approximately 248,000 firearms licence holders.
2. What makes a prohibited item near new; used, or in poor condition?
These characteristics are defined by Police and are explained in the price list. Generally, a near new item means it is difficult to determine whether it has ever been used; a used item has superficial wear and tear or minimal pitting or corrosion; and an item in poor condition could be unsafe, inoperable, rusty, damaged, corroded, dented or have missing parts.
3. What is the broad range of prices to buy-back prohibited firearms?
Police will publish an extensive and detailed price list. However as an indicative figure, the base price for centrefire semi-automatic rifles ranges between $1000 and $10,000. Most have a base price of less than $5000. Shotguns are generally less than $5000.
4. How many firearms have been handed in so far?
As at 18 June 672 firearms had been handed in; a further 4,815 had been declared for surrender via the online form and are being stored by owners in the interim.
In addition, Police have seized around 700 firearms during the ordinary course of Policing since March.
5. Did KPMG give Police an estimate for the total cost of the buyback?
More detailed information about cost estimates will be released shortly. The Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA) prepared by Police for Ministers shows there is significant uncertainty about total costs.
6. What if the owner of a prohibited firearm does not have a licence?
Prohibited firearms handed in by an unlicensed owner will be accepted for collection during the amnesty, but will not be eligible for compensation.
7. What about handing in firearms, parts and ammunition that are still lawful?
The amnesty also allows for the surrender of any lawful firearm, part, magazine or ammunition. These will not be eligible for compensation.
8. What steps should owners take to apply for compensation and hand in the weapons and parts?
Firearms owners should go online or phone Police to complete the formal notification process. They should then take a record of the paperwork to the collection points. Payments will be made directly to their bank accounts. Police hope to be able to make most payments within ten days of the firearms being handed in although this timing may be subject to change and could be longer.
The website is and the phone no. is 0800 311311
9. When will the first large-scale community collections begin?
The first community collection is expected around mid-July.
10. How will the network of firearms dealers be used?
Some firearms owners may prefer not to deal with Police. For this reason Police will contract some gun dealers to handle the collection and buy-back process.
Police will publish a list of approved dealers who have opted into the scheme in the coming weeks. The approved dealers will receive a flat fee of $50 for every licensed owner whose application/s they process
11. What if a firearm is not listed or substantially different from the model listed?
The regulations allow an owner of a unique item not covered by the list or substantially different from the model listed to pay a fee and apply for separate valuation of that item if it meets specified criteria. This does not affect anybody’s existing rights under the Act to appeal to the District or High Court.
12. How long do people have to hand in their firearms and take part in the buy-back process?
The amnesty and buy-back will run until 20 December however we want people to take part in the collection process much earlier. Firearms owners cannot use prohibited firearms, parts or magazines during this time.
13. What will happen to people that do not hand in their prohibited items by 20 Dec 2019?
If people do not hand in their prohibited firearms, parts and magazines during the amnesty and do not demonstrate any intent to do so, then Police will take action once the amnesty period is over.
During the amnesty period, anybody, including non-licensees, may anonymously hand in any firearm/s under amnesty. These firearms will be destroyed and are not eligible for buy-back.
14. Are there any people with prohibited firearms who can hold onto them?
Yes, but only collectors, dealers and a narrow group of people who undertake wild animal pest control will be able to apply for exemptions through a process via Police. They need to obtain a new endorsement and permit to possess a prohibited firearm.
Firearms owners in this category should keep the weapons safe and secure while going through the exemption process. The Police website has more information.
15. Why are you allowing people to modify their firearms?
Modification is voluntary. We received a range of feedback on the legislative changes, and have listened to those firearms owners who would like to be able to keep their item, if it may be modified in order to comply with the law.
Modification will encourage owners to make their firearms safer. A modification effectively means the magazine capacity of a firearm is reduced, so it is no longer a prohibited firearm.
Police will publish a list of approved gunsmiths who can carry out this work. The Crown will pay for modifications up to $300.

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