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.


Six killed as avalanche buries Indian patrol on disputed glacier

Updated 18 November 2019

Six killed as avalanche buries Indian patrol on disputed glacier

  • The disaster was the latest on the Siachen Glacier at more than 5,000 meters
  • Hundreds of troops from both sides have died in avalanches and from the fierce climate

SRINAGAR: An avalanche on Monday hit an Indian patrol in the world’s highest militarised zone in the Himalayas, killing four soldiers and two porters, an army spokesman said.
The disaster was the latest on the Siachen Glacier at more than 5,000 meters (16,500 feet) that is claimed by India and rival Pakistan.
Hundreds of troops from both sides have died in avalanches and from the fierce climate in the region over the past three decades.
An Indian military spokesman told AFP that the avalanche engulfed eight people in the patrol at the northern end of the glacier in the Karakoram mountain range.
Rescue teams managed to dig the patrol members out of the snow, and they were taken by helicopter to hospital.
“Despite best efforts, six casualties which includes four soldiers and two civilian porters succumbed to extreme hypothermia,” said the spokesman, Col. Rajesh Kalia.
Avalanches are common on the 700-square-kilometer (270-square-mile) glacier, where temperatures regularly fall to minus 60 degrees Celsius (-76 Fahrenheit).
In 2016, 10 Indian soldiers were buried and killed.
About 900 Indian soldiers alone have died on the glacier since 1984, when Indian forces took complete control of Siachen.
The glacier is located at the northern end of the Line of Control that divides Kashmir, which India and Pakistan have fought over since 1947.