WELLINGTON, July 21 (Xinhua) -- The first full week of New Zealand's firearms buyback and amnesty, which aims to remove the most dangerous weapons from circulation, has produced a strong turnout as events roll out nationwide for the first time.
"Momentum is slowly starting to build as community collection events are held across the entire country," Police Minister Stuart Nash said in a statement after 25 public firearm collection events were held over the past week, including seven held on Sunday.
Military style, semi-automatic weapons became illegal in the country's gun law amended shortly after New Zealand's deadliest terrorist attacks that killed 51 people on March 15 in two Christchurch mosques. The new law allows turning in prohibited weapons within a six-month amnesty period till the end of the year.
Provisional figures show 2,143 firearms owners have participated since the buyback got underway, handing in 3,275 firearms, 7,827 prohibited parts and accessories, and receiving payments of almost 6.19 million NZ dollars (4.19 million U.S. dollars) in compensation.
"The strongest turnout for a single day was at Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland today, where 240 people took part, handing in 405 prohibited firearms and 1,343 parts and accessories," Nash said. The first collection was held in Christchurch last weekend.
Local police commanders at each event are consistently reporting the same response: firearms owners want to do the right thing. Many events have seen people queuing before the doors open, ready to hand in firearms, parts and ammunition, according to the minister.
The buyback scheme gives owners 70 percent of the base price for new or used guns, and 25 percent of the base price for guns with poor condition.
The government has put aside more than 200 million NZ dollars for payments and administration of the gun buyback and amnesty.