Gun buyback scheme: How it will work

Owners of guns which will soon be illegal will be paid up to 95 percent of their purchase price if they willingly hand them over.

If they don't, the Government will pitch in funds for modification to make them legal.

Police Minister Stuart Nash and Finance Minister Grant Robertson unveiled the long-awaited firearms buyback scheme on Thursday morning, revealing the amount set aside to pay for it has been boosted above $200 million thanks to a $40 million injection from ACC.

"We have already set aside $150 million for the buy-back, based on officials' initial advice, said Robertson.

"The ACC board has also agreed to allocate $40 million in recognition the buy-back scheme is likely to contribute to a reduction in the severity and incidence of injuries from the prohibited firearms."

The buyback starts immediately, and will run until December 20. It comes three months after an alleged white supremacist gunman opened fire in Christchurch, killing 51.

Owners of prohibited firearms will be paid 95 percent the 'base price' for weapons in new or near-new condition; 70 percent for used, and 25 percent if they're in poor condition.

"A near-new item means it is difficult to determine whether it has ever been used," Robertson and Nash said in a statement. "A used item has superficial wear and tear or minimal pitting or corrosion, and an item in poor condition could be unsafe, inoperable, rusty, damaged, corroded, dented or have missing parts."

For parts and magazines, compensation starts at 70 percent for new, near-new or used items, and 25 percent for stuff in a poor condition. Dealers will get compensation for stock.

"The compensation scheme recognises licensed firearms owners are now in possession of prohibited items through no fault of their own, but because of a law passed by almost the entire Parliament," said Nash.

Weapons belonging to unlicenced owners will be accepted, but won't attract compensation. They may be handed over anonymously.

There will be four options for collection:

  • large-scale events at centralised community locations;
  • handing over items at approved gun dealers;
  • bulk pickups by police
  • and at police stations.

"Delivery to a police station is the least-preferred option," said Nash. "The police preference is for people to hand-in firearms, parts, magazines and ammunition at the large community events. This will be the most effective and efficient approach. Until then, firearms owners should keep their items safe and secure."

Police are expected to release a list of every type of banned weapon and their buyback prices on Thursday. Weapons that aren't on the list may still be considered for compensation, but may have to pay to have a valuation done.

Collecters, dealers and people who need prohibited weapons for pest control will need to apply for an exemption with police.

If you'd rather not hand over your prohibited gun, the Government is willing to pay up to $300 for modifications to make them legal.

Before the buyback scheme was announced, 672 guns had already been handed over.

Consultation with public

Nash said the compensation regime was designed by police and KPMG in consultation with gun clubs, dealers, farmers and hunters.

Anyone still holding onto an illegal weapon after December 20 should expect a visit from the authorities, said Nash.

"I want to reiterate what the Government has made clear from the beginning. The prohibition of military-style semi-automatics was not directed at law-abiding people with legitimate uses for their guns. It was instead directed at making sure the events of 15 March never happen again."

The Government doesn't have a register of guns currently owned by the public, but estimates there are 1.2 million out there - including at least 14,300 now prohibited military-style semi-automatics.