First gun collection nets 129 firearms

Outside the Taieri Rugby Football Club in Mosgiel after handing in his now-illegal rifle is Keith...
Outside the Taieri Rugby Football Club in Mosgiel after handing in his now-illegal rifle is Keith Currie with Matthew Glover (11). PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
The South's first gun collection event ran smoothly and was a success, netting at least 129 now-illegal firearms from 87 owners, police say.

Nationwide, 375 prohibited firearms were collected at five events, while $687,620 was paid in compensation to 241 owners.

About five firearms, including shotguns, rifles and a pistol, were also dropped off under the no-questions-asked amnesty in Mosgiel, running alongside the buy-back of now-illegal weapons.

Port Chalmers man Keith Currie was among those handing in a firearm which had become illegal following gun reforms after the Christchurch mosque shootings, in his case a four-shot semi-automatic SKS rifle of Chinese manufacture.

Mr Currie said the event was well-run and the mood inside the Taieri Rugby Football Club was good.

"It's excellent - they put on coffee, savouries, biscuits; soft drinks for the kids."

He was paid 75% of the base price for the rifle.

The 70-year-old laughed when asked if he was sad to see the rifle go.

"Not really. I'm too old to use it now. My days of hunting are well over."

Southern District commander Superintendent Paul Basham said the event was an overwhelming success from a police point of view.

He thanked firearms owners for what he said was their uniformly positive and constructive engagement with the process.

"It's important that we acknowledge these people coming along are looking to do the right thing, even though many of them understandably have ... a sentimental attachment to what is now a prohibited weapon, so good on them for coming along and engaging as they did."

About five weapons were handed in as part of the amnesty running for all weapons, rather than as part of the buy-back of now-prohibited firearms, including rifles, shotguns and a pistol.

Supt Basham urged people to consider handing over weapons they no longer needed or wanted, or which "compromised" them, promising police would not ask questions nor track their origin.

"It's a great opportunity. No strings attached, no conditions - just come in and hand over any sort of firearm or weapon that you no longer want or you feel compromises you in any sort of way. It's a total amnesty."

Southern District firearms programme lead Senior Sergeant Greg Ballantyne, of Invercargill, said the most common types of weapon surrendered were AR- and AK-type military-style semi-automatic rifles, in line with other collections throughout the country.

He reminded firearms owners that optics, including rifle scopes, were not part of the buy-back, so if people wanted to keep their scopes, they should remove them before coming to the collection point.

"If they have issues with that, we'll make staff available to help them out."

Ammunition was also not part of the buy-back and people would not be allowed to bring it in, he said.

Yesterday's event will be followed by two others in Dunedin, today and tomorrow, both at the Kensington Army Hall, in Bridgman St, between 10am and 2pm.

Were you involved in the gun buy-back or amnesty? Let us know your experiences, email reporters@odt.co.nz 

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