Police unsure how many gun owners will turn up to buyback event

Nine hundred people have registered for the first gun buyback event being held in Christchurch this weekend, but police admit just over 12 hours out from the event kicking off they have no idea how many people will turn up.

"It's a bit of an unknown and a bit of a journey for us," Canterbury District Commander Mike Johnson said.

Law reform in April has banned most military style semi-automatics and components after the Christchurch terror attacks. Two hundred and sixty events will be held around New Zealand in the buyback scheme.

What's unclear is how many gun owners will turn up - the NZ Deerstalkers' Association are predicting some will stay away in protest over payouts and the process

"In all the decades that I've been involved in the firearms side in the country, I've never seen so much emotion aroused as has been aroused over this issue," said spokesperson Bill O'Leary.

The event starts at 10am on Saturday at the Riccarton race course. Security measures have been ramped up and armed police will be present to ensure the safety of the public handing their firearms over and staff administering the event.

"That's certainly caused some of our people to think gee-whiz, am I putting myself at risk by going along to this event if the police consider there is a risk sufficient for them to be armed," O'Leary said. 

Police are adamant there are no specific security concerns 

"People are coming here because they're honest law abiding citizens and they want to abide by the process that's here and that's what we're here to facilitate," Johnson said.

Saturday will be the first test for gun owners, cashing in firearms or turning them over, no questions asked.