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Prohibited . . . Civilian versions of military style semi-automatic firearms such as this Ruger SR 556 are now prohibited firearms and must be handed in to the police. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE

by Greta Yeoman

South Canterbury firearms owners will get their first chance to hand in any prohibited guns at two collection days later this month.

The first collection event in the region – which is part of the Government’s gun buy-back programme and amnesty scheme – will be held at Timaru’s Caroline Bay Hall on Sunday, July 28.

This will run from 10am to 3pm.

Fairlie will also host a collection event on Monday, July 29, at the Mackenzie Community Centre Stadium on Main St, from 3-7pm.

The South Canterbury events follow the first two collection events in Christchurch at the weekend, where 542 firearms, along with 578 prohibited parts or accessories, were handed in by 378 people.

More than $1million was paid out to gun owners across these two buy-back events.

What you should know

The amnesty on possession of prohibited firearms, parts, and magazines will run until December 20, 2019.

Police encourage any person in possession of a prohibited firearm to safely secure it and notify the police by completing the online form or calling 800311-311.

The amnesty allows gun owners time to hand over prohibited firearms even if they no longer hold a valid firearms licence, with no questions asked.

Owners may also hand in non-prohibited firearms if they no longer wish to have them in their possession.

Before coming to an event, owners must clear firearms of all ammunition and put them and any parts in a safe carry bag.

To speed up the process at events, owners need to complete the form on the NZ Police website before coming to the event, including listing each firearm and/or each individual part they are bringing along.

 

Also bring the following with you

Your firearms licence (if applicable)

Photo identification (drivers licence or passport)

Your bank account number

Your online notification reference number

All your prohibited parts, cleared of all ammunition

Any other non-prohibited firearms or parts you wish to hand in to the police

A valuation if you believe your firearm fits the unique prohibited criteria

Figures released by the police under the Official Information Act (OIA) show that between March 15 and June 10, South Canterbury firearms owners filed 73 amnesty forms, and declared 97 firearms for intent to surrender.

Of the 73 declared under amnesty, 28 were in Timaru, 9 were in Waimate, 7 in Pleasant Point, 5 in Twizel and 11 in Temuka.

Thirty-nine firearms were declared to police with intent to surrender in Timaru, 14 in Waimate, nine in Pleasant Point, four in Twizel and 15 in Temuka.

Of the firearms declared for surrender and under amnesty across South Canterbury, 23 had been received by the police by June 10.

Police also seized 37 firearms in the region between March 15 and June 10.

Canterbury Mid-South area commander Inspector Dave Gaskin said it was “a bit of a guess” at present as to how these figures balanced out with overall numbers of now-banned firearms across the South Canterbury region.

However, police would know more after the first collection day, he said.

While some community members, notably farmers who used semi-automatic guns for pest control and other farm duties, had been unsure about the law changes, Insp Gaskin was positive about the overall response.

“Most of the public understand the reason for it.”

Both licensed owners of semi-automatic firearms – which are now banned following the March 15 mosque attacks in Christchurch – and those in possession of prohibited firearms without a licence can hand their guns in.

However, to receive compensation for prohibited firearms people are required to have a valid firearms licence.

Those without licences can hand in firearms under amnesty, with no questions asked, until December 20, 2019.

The firearms will be destroyed and are not eligible for buy-back.

Collection events will be held at the Caroline Bay Community Lounge in Timaru on July 28, August 31 and September 1 – all from 10am to 3pm.

Mackenzie residents wanting to hand in firearms will be able to do so on Monday, July 29, at the Mackenzie Community Centre Stadium on Main St, Fairlie, from 3pm to 7pm.

Geraldine residents will get their chance on September 21 from 10am to 3pm at the Geraldine Scout Den, and Waimate residents will be able to hand in their firearms from 10am to 3pm at the Waimate Event Centre on September 22.

For more information or ongoing updates about collection events and further dates visit www.police.govt.nz.