Police hoping for 'way better' response from owners of illegal guns

Police say that although the gun buy-back is going well, it's not good enough. 

Events continued this weekend, with over $30 million handed over to licensed owners in return for their now illegal weapons. 

Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Clement says gun owners need to be proactive.

"We've got about 17,000 firearms in total - those numbers are good, but we want them to be way better, quite frankly. I've just got to get on and make sure that we work as hard as we can. There's six months we've been given to carry out the exercise."

The Council of Licenced Firearm Owners agrees, saying a trial beginning this week to have collection points at gun retail outlets would help.

"We are pleased to hear that additional channels are being launched to allow law-abiding firearms owners a less stressful way to turn in the newly banned firearms," said chair Michael Dowling, adding that many gun owners didn't want to attend police-run collection events after others reported "heavy-handed behaviour from armed police and an intimidating environment".

Police say the two firearm dealers to be added as buyback locations will be the first of many.

"We're going to go much wider than that, but we just want to iron out any kinks in the pilot, and make sure those dealers are happy with the process," said Clement.

"We took advice from the Australians because regrettably, they had their own unfortunate incident back in the 1990s with Port Arthur... they said there's a variety of things that you should do, and one of them was local collection points from the dealer network."

Clement says if it's a success, there will be more to come. 

Dowling said it's likely the number of guns handed over would "increase significantly" now.

"Firearm owners did not ask for the ban, but as it [is] now law, the collection programme has to succeed."

The buyback was implemented following New Zealand's worst-ever mass shooting in Christchurch on March 15. 

No one's really sure just how many now-illegal guns are out there. The Government's allocated budget originally set aside about $14,000 per military-style assault rifle, saying there are at least 14,300 registered with police.

In March, the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners said there could be as many as 400,000 weapons in New Zealand covered by the new legislation - that would leave about $500 per gun.