Details of a NZ$200 million ($138 million) government-funded gun ban and “buy back” scheme in New Zealand were announced this week, and the net is broad.
The plan, announced in a joint statement from Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Police Minister Stuart Nash, gives gun owners with now-outlawed firearms until December to hand them over to law enforcement. The plan comes after a law change rushed through the legislature banned numerous types of firearms and aims to pay owners on a sliding scale for the gun’s value.
“The compensation scheme recognizes 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,” said Nash.
Besides all centerfire semi-auto rifles, the prohibition covers even lever-action, bolt-action, and pump-action rifles if they have a capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition, regardless if they are chambered in centerfire or rimfire calibers. When it comes to shotguns, pumps, and semi-autos capable of holding more than five shells are now banned. A 15-page price list covering about 300 guns has been released by New Zealand Police which sets a base value by model, of which the government may offer between 25 and 95 percent, depending on the gun’s condition.
For example, a Browning BAR Mk. II, a semi-auto hunting rifle typically with a four-round magazine, has a base price of NZ$1500 ($985) on the list, which would mean the owner of the classic game-getter could get as little as NZ$375 ($246) for the gun– or risk a hefty prison sentence after December should they decide not to hand it in.
Several vintage rifles from yesteryear — some out of production for nearly a century– are on the list including the Remington Model 8, Winchester 1907, the M1 Garand, and various examples of the French MAS series. Rare Heckler & Koch wooden-stocked sporting rifles, like the HK 630 and HK 770, have likewise been targeted for destruction. Have a Mossberg 500 with a 6-shell tube? It’s on the list alongside the Beretta A300 and Benelli Super Nova.
New Zealand’s Council of Licensed Firearms Owners, or COLFO, a pro-gun group, has warned they may seek legal action. The group has stated that the proposed compensation for those forced to hand over their firearms to the government may be a sour deal for many.
“We expect them to look after the firearms community, we expect them to pay fair compensation, we expect them to pay in a timely way for the firearms, parts, accessories and consumables they are confiscating,” said the group. “A fair balance is not what this community are looking for, they want their money back and not be out of pocket. Quite simple really.”
New Zealand police estimate upwards of 15,000 guns are impacted by the ban while it is believed over 1.5 million firearms are in circulation in the country of 5 million people. Guns can be handed in at a licensed dealer or designated police station through Dec. 20 and will ultimately be shredded.
Earlier this year, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calf, applauded New Zealand lawmakers on “a job well done,” following the statement up with “the U.S. should follow suit.”