ACT takes aim at Government's gun buyback scheme

ACT says the Government's gun buyback scheme will New Zealand "more dangerous" by failing to compensate owners properly.

Instead, ACT is proposing paying anyone who hands in their gun the "fair market value".

"The only way the Government will retrieve all newly-prohibited firearms, and keep the public safe, is if it offers owners reasonable compensation. It has failed to do that," ACT's sole MP David Seymour said on Thursday.

"There is now a serious risk that compliance with the buyback scheme will be low and that firearms will go underground. If a significant number of guns are not handed in, the Government risks creating a black market of illegal firearms without any regulatory oversight.

The Government's buyback scheme, unveiled earlier on Thursday, proposed paying up to 95 percent of a prohibited weapon's value, and 70 percent for parts and magazines. The amnesty runs for six months - Seymour says this isn't long enough.

"ACT would extend the amnesty period and ensure compensation reflects fair market value and includes security, licensing costs, parts, consumables and ammunition."

And for those who don't want to hand in their guns, Seymour's on their side too - proposing reinstating the E endorsement category and expanding it to "include all recently-prohibited semi-automatic firearms (excluding .22 rimfire or smaller)". While this would effectively unban several weapons prohibited by the Government's recent changes, ACT says fewer people would qualify to legally own them under its stricter proposed rules.

ACT also wants to "adjust the magazine limits to 7 for shotgun, 10 for all other centrefire, and 15 for rimfire", and stop any register that's put in place recording who owns category A firearms. These are generally used in sports, but can be illegally modified to function like former category E weapons, which are now banned.

ACT is also calling for a law that "clarifies who can and cannot own a firearm... and on what basis", citing violent gang membership as one potential sticking point, and hold an inquiry into whether an independent Government agency should take over administration of the Arms Act from police.

"Parliament treated gun owners with contempt during April’s legislative process," said Seymour. "The gun community could have been welcomed as part of the solution, but legislating in nine days with scant regard for the usual process of public input and parliamentary scrutiny sent a message of disdain.

"ACT believes we need to have the gun community onside. We have an opportunity to treat gun owners fairly, and create a safer country, by presenting them with a reasonable offer of compensation. We must take that opportunity."

ACT relaunched itself at the weekend, presenting a new logo and policies. Former leader Richard Prebble spoke of Seymour's "conscience" in being the only MP to vote against the post-Christchurch gun legislation.

"In the hysteria in Parliament following the events in Christchurch this Parliament stampeded through some legislation... who had the courage to get up and say that? David Seymour," said Prebble, NZME reports.

"David Seymour has voted alone against this coalition - and I call it a coalition from the Greens right through to National."

ACT says the policy is a draft, and wants feedback from the public.