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Christchurch shootings: New Zealanders hand over guns

Media caption‘The law changed, and made everyone feel safer’

New Zealanders have started handing over their semi-automatic weapons as part of a buyback scheme following a ban after the Christchurch attacks.

Gun reforms were enacted after a gunman shot dead 51 people at two mosques in March.

Saturday’s handover in Christchurch was the first of more than 250 collections to be held across the country.

More than NZ$433,600 (£230,000) was paid in compensation to 169 firearms owners, who handed in 224 weapons.

The weapons were then destroyed.

“Police recognise that this is a big change for the law-abiding firearms community and we are hearing really positive feedback from people as they come through today that they are finding the process works well for them,” regional police commander Mike Johnson said.

More than 900 gun owners in the Canterbury region had registered to hand over 1,415 firearms, he added.

One gun owner, who requested anonymity, was pleased with the NZ$13,000 (£6,900) he received for his semi-automatic hunting firearm.

“I didn’t think this would be a fair process at all – I wasn’t particularly happy about it. But the outcome was good and they handled it well,” he told the New Zealand Herald newspaper.

Media captionNew Zealand PM, Jacinda Ardern: “These weapons were designed to kill”

The government has pledged NZ$208 million (£110 million) for the scheme.

The gun reform bill was passed by 119-1 in April to prohibit military-style semi-automatic weapons and parts that can be used to assemble prohibited firearms.

Delivering an emotional speech to parliament in April, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “I cannot imagine circumstances where that is more necessary than it is now.”

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