More than 10,000 firearms have been surrendered in New Zealand buyback
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More than 10,000 military-style weapons have been bought back by the New Zealand government less than a month after launching its gun buyback program, which was put in place after a mass shooting in Christchurch left 51 people dead, The Guardian reported.

Following the March mass shooting in two Christchurch mosques by a self-avowed white supremacist, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the country’s lawmakers passed legislation to ban military-style automatic and semi-automatic weapons, approving 150 million New Zealand dollars to buy the guns back from people.

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The shooter acquired the weapons legally in New Zealand.

The country launched the buyback program in mid-July. The country’s police have received 10,242 firearms since then, and 1,269 weapons have been handed in, according to The Guardian. The amnesty policy means police will not ask how a person acquired the now-banned weapons, even if the owner does not have any registration or a firearm license. 

New Zealand has held 90 gun collection events across the country, which have been attended by more than 7,000 gun owners, according to The Guardian. The police said they were “really happy” with the public response.

“I could not fathom how weapons that could cause such destruction and large-scale death could be obtained legally in this country,” Ardern said after the attack, The Guardian reported. “I struggle to recall any single gunshot wounds. In every case they [victims] spoke of multiple injuries, multiple debilitating injuries that deemed it impossible for them to recover in days, let alone weeks. They will carry disabilities for a lifetime, and that’s before you consider the psychological impact. We are here for them.”

The total number of firearms in New Zealand is estimated to be between 1.2 million and 1.5 million. Some gun owners began turning in their weapons immediately after the Christchurch attack out of disgust, according to The Guardian. 

Others began stockpiling weapons in response to the government banning the military-style weapons. Gun clubs and hunting associations have criticized the plan for keeping weapons from people and cited the compensation from the program, calling it too small. Possession of one of the banned weapons can net a sentence of two to five years in prison.