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New Zealand Gun Buyback Program Plagued By Failures

New Zealand Gun Buyback Program Plagued By Failures

Despite a New Zealand Police estimate on April 2, 2019, that there were as many as 240,000 firearms in the country that fall under the terms of the country’s mandatory gun buyback, only 61,332 were collected or modified as of Feb. 13, 2020—nearly three months after the deadline for compliance. A report from the nation’s Auditor-General also found cost of administering the controversial program was nearly double the original estimate and budget allocated for the effort.

The report, issued in May, explains, “The Police now estimate that, once fully completed, administering the scheme will have cost up to $35 million. This includes costs of tracked staff time, contractors, and goods and services…This is nearly double the $18 million the 2019 Budget provided and includes about $5.5 million the Police spent on the scheme in 2018/19.” [Figures are in New Zealand dollars.]

Among the firearms now prohibited in New Zealand are all semi-automatics, with the exception of .22 rimfires with a magazine that holds 10 rounds or less and shotguns with a tubular magazine capable of holding 5 or fewer shotshells. Any pump-action shotgun with a detachable magazine is no longer allowed, as well as those with a capacity that exceeds five shells. The official list of items that must be surrendered includes all magazines, detachable or not, capable of holding 10 rounds, regardless of cartridge—wording that sweeps a variety of family heirlooms and antiques into the law.

“The Police provided extensive information about the scheme on their website, including videos,” according to the Auditor-General report. “Some of that information was hard to navigate and some detailed, specific technical information was difficult to locate.”

Adding to the confusion was, “The limited knowledge of the types of firearms and parts in the community [that] resulted in the Police adding more types of firearms and parts to the price list over time,” according to the report. “The first price list was published on 20 June 2019 and listed 314 firearms. The final price list was published on 25 October 2019 and listed 454 firearms.”

There was also an identity theft concern. Only a few weeks into the buyback some participants had their personal information compromised.

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