New Zealanders hand over 10,000-plus guns and weapons parts in buy-back scheme

Even with a population of just under 5 million, New Zealand has an estimated total of 1.5 million firearms. (File/AFP)
Updated 21 July 2019

New Zealanders hand over 10,000-plus guns and weapons parts in buy-back scheme

  • A gun reform law passed in April banned most semi-automatic firearms
  • Owners have until Dec. 20 to hand in their weapons

SYDNEY: New Zealanders have handed over more than 10,000 guns, weapons parts and accessories in the first week of a buy-back scheme prompted by the country’s worst peacetime mass shooting, police figures released on Sunday show.
A gun reform law passed in April banned most semi-automatic firearms, parts that convert firearms into semi-automatics, magazines over a certain capacity and some shotguns.
Owners have until Dec. 20 to hand in their weapons and the government has set aside NZ$208 million ($140.63 million) to compensate them for up to 95% of the original cost.
The buy-back comes four months after a lone gunman with semi-automatic weapons attacked Muslims attending Friday prayers in Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island, killing 51 people.
More than 2,000 people have surrendered 3,275 firearms, 7,827 parts and accessories and in return authorities have paid them slightly more than NZ$6 million ($4.06 million) since the buy-back began last Saturday, a police spokesperson told Reuters by telephone on Sunday.
Police said they were pleased with the turnout on Sunday, as 684 people handed in 1,061 guns and 3,397 parts and accessories at events across the country.
Police superintendent Karyn Malthus said hundreds of firearms had been surrendered in Auckland.
“The feedback from firearms owners at the event has been very positive,” she said in an emailed statement.
Media reported on Wednesday that Christchurch residents were upset about the proposed opening of a Gun City mega store in the city.
Brenton Tarrant, accused of the March 15 killings, bought four weapons and ammunition from the Gun City chain online from December 2017 to March 2018, owner David Tipple said in March.
Tarrant, due to stand trial in May, has pleaded not guilty to 92 charges over the attacks, including New Zealand’s first terrorism charge.
With a population of just under 5 million and an estimated total of 1.5 million firearms, New Zealand ranks 17th in the world in terms of civilian firearm ownership, the Small Arms Survey shows.


Sanders set for ‘vigorous’ campaign return after heart scare

Updated 15 min 30 sec ago

Sanders set for ‘vigorous’ campaign return after heart scare

  • Less than three weeks after suffering a heart attack, the Democratic presidential contender is beginning what he’s calling a “vigorous” return to campaigning
  • Sanders suddenly finds himself looking up at progressive rival Elizabeth Warren and establishment favorite Joe Biden in the polls

NEW YORK: Bernie Sanders isn’t going anywhere.
Less than three weeks after suffering a heart attack, the Democratic presidential contender is beginning what he’s calling a “vigorous” return to campaigning with a rally expected to draw thousands of supporters to New York City on Saturday afternoon. One of them will be Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders’ latest high-profile endorsement, who will share the stage with Sanders this weekend and give his stagnant White House bid an instant dose of energy.
The event marks a coming-out party of sorts for the 78-year-old Vermont senator. He had emergency heart surgery this month but insists that he’s more committed than ever to his 2020 White House bid. With the first voting contests less than four months away, he has some work to do.
Beyond health concerns, Sanders suddenly finds himself looking up at progressive rival Elizabeth Warren and establishment favorite Joe Biden in the polls. Now he must reassure voters that he has the physical stamina to go forward while addressing broader concerns that his policies may be too far left to defeat President Donald Trump in a general election.
Enter Ocasio-Cortez.
The endorsement from the 30-year-old progressive star “send the message that the movement is growing, that it’s gaining influence, that it’s gaining traction,” Sanders’ campaign manager Faiz Shakir said.
He predicted that the newly announced support from Ocasio-Cortez and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota, who will not be present Saturday, would help Sanders generate significantly more support from young people and minorities going forward.
“Those are two people who I think have immense power to mobilize young people, and I promise you you’ll be seeing them in Iowa, but not only in Iowa, but around the country, trying to get people engaged around the issues,” Shakir said.
For now, at least, Sanders can use the help.
While he pledged during this week’s presidential debate to move forward with a “vigorous” campaign, he’s moving cautiously in the short term. The rally in Queens is his only scheduled appearance before he returns to Iowa late next week.
The week after, he’ll join Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Michigan, for a tour of her congressional district. Tlaib hasn’t announced whether she’ll join Ocasio-Cortez and Omar in endorsing Sanders, but she is also part of the so-called “Squad” of minority women on Capitol Hill who has been frequent targets of Trump’s attacks.
Despite aggressive rhetoric from Sanders himself, senior adviser Jeff Weaver said Sanders would ease himself back onto the campaign trail. But by December, Weaver predicted, Sanders’ health scare will be forgotten.