Gun buyback taking 'the least-dangerous guns out of circulation' - David Seymour

ACT leader David Seymour has labelled the gun buyback scheme a waste of time, despite police hailing the first event a success.

Around 440 firearms and accessories were surrendered in Christchurch on Saturday for day one of the two-day hand-in - the first of more than 250 planned around the country. It's designed to rid New Zealand of the kinds of weapons often used by mass shooters, in particular the gunman who opened fire on two Christchurch mosques in February, killing 51. 

Nearly 170 firearms owners handed in 224 prohibited firearms and 217 parts and accessories.

But Seymour says the exercise is pointless.

"People who are prepared to line up in the full public glare and hand in their firearms at below-market rates are not the people we should be worried about," he told Newshub.

David Seymour.
David Seymour. Photo credit: The AM Show

More than $430,000 has already been paid in compensation.

"We're spending millions of dollars of taxpayers' money to take the least-dangerous guns out of circulation, and eroding the trust of the law-abiding firearms community," said Seymour.

Police on the other hand were stoked with how the day went. 

"Canterbury firearms owners' attitude towards this process has been outstanding," said Acting Canterbury District Commander Mike Johnson. 

"They have really engaged in the process here today and we have had positive feedback about the experience. I really want to thank both the public and our team for such a good start to what is the first of 258 collection events nationwide."

Owners who showed up to surrender their weapons seemed overall generally happy with the compensation and process. 

But Council of Licenced Firearms Owners spokesperson Nicole McKee says the figures are underwhelming - there were 900 registered for the event, but only 169 showed up on Saturday.

"The collection event only generated around a quarter of registered people - so we suspect there's still a large number who not only are yet to register, but they still have to turn up to an event."

Nicole McKee.
Nicole McKee. Photo credit: The AM Show

She blamed the level of compensation.

"We've heard of people coming out being very unhappy with the pricing for their firearm - values being only a third of what they purchased their firearm for."

Police expect more registered gun owners to show up on Sunday, where once again Riccarton Racecourse will be open for dropoffs until 3pm.

"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," said Johnson. 

Police have no idea how many of the newly prohibited firearms are out there.