Kate Lyons – The Guardian March 20, 2019
New Zealanders have begun handing in their firearms to police in the wake of Friday’s mass shooting in Christchurch which resulted in the deaths of at least 50 people.
New Zealand police said that, as of Tuesday night, at least 37 firearms had been handed in to police officers around the country.
The prime minister is expected to announce changes to gun laws in the coming days, including measures such as a ban on semi-automatic rifles, a plan that was flagged by her attorney general, David Parker, one day after the massacre.
She emerged from a long cabinet meeting on Monday, Jacinda Ardern said her team would take the rest of the week to work out the details after agreeing to make changes “in principle”, adding: “These aren’t simple areas of law. So that’s simply what we’ll be taking the time to get right.”
Ardern encouraged people to surrender their firearms to police and advised anyone considering buying a gun to wait a few days to get some certainty on the laws before investing.
“As the prime minister announced, anybody wanting to surrender their firearms to police is welcome to do so,” said New Zealand police, who urged people to call first and alert police they would be coming in with a weapon due to heightened security fears.
“You can contact your local police station or your local arms officer to get advice on the safe transport of the firearm to police. This will also enable our staff to be aware of your arrival ahead of time.”
One of those who surrendered a firearm, was John Hart, who has a 20-hectare sheep and beef farm north of Masterton.
Hart, who ran as a Greens party candidate in the 2017 election, handed in his semi-automatic rifle to police on Monday in the wake of the shootings. Hart said that while the gun was useful for some tasks, it was “actually too dangerous to have around as a weapon”.
“For me, it became that trade-off: is my convenience worth the risk to other people’s lives by having these guns in the country? I pretty quickly realised there was no comparison. We’ll cope without semi-automatic weapons, we won’t cope without the people who were taken from us from these events.”