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New Zealand govt launches ‘buyback’ scheme to remove semi-automatic weapons after Christchurch

After the amnesty expires, possession of prohibited firearms is punishable by up to five years in jail.

SNS | New Delhi |

New Zealand government launched a multi-billion dollar six-month ‘buyback’ scheme to compensate the owners of powerful but newly banned semi-automatic weapons after the deadly attack on two mosques in the Southern city of Christchurch in March.

New Zealand Police Minister Stuart Nash said, “The buyback and amnesty has one objective — to remove the most dangerous weapons from circulation following the loss of life at Al Noor and Linwood mosques”.

At least 51 people were killed and several others injured after a gunman opened fire on worshippers at two mosques in Christchurch.

Brenton Tarrant, an Australian man accused of carrying out the attacks, was alleged to have an arsenal of five weapons, including two military-style semi-automatic rifles (MSSAs).

Licensed firearms owners will have six months to surrender weapons that have now been deemed illegal under the scheme with an amnesty ensuring they will not face prosecution during that period.

After the amnesty expires, possession of prohibited firearms is punishable by up to five years in jail.

Compensation will be based on the model and condition of the firearm, with the total cost of the scheme estimated at NZ$218 million ($143 million).

New Zealand Police said that “they were organizing ‘collection events’ around the country where firearms owners could submit their weapons”.

Brenton Tarrant, the prime accused, has been charged with 51 counts of murder, 40 of attempted murder and engaging in a terrorist act on March 15.