Does the repurchase of weapons strike the right balance?


This story was originally published in and is republished with permission.

Has the government struck the right balance in its arms buyback scheme? The proof will be in the pudding, writes Laura Walters.

The government has established a compensation formula as part of its arms buyback, which it believes is fair and has struck the right balance.

However, the significant uncertainty surrounding the final price, effectiveness and potential appeals and lawsuits remains.

* Unclear storage and transport, as the forbidden semi-automatic is directed to the crusher
* Opposition is not sold in the government's $ 208 million arms buyback scheme
The & # 39; Police Gun & # 39; about 700 firearms seized since March
* There is not enough funding in the budget for the purchase of weapons, say, arms lobby – $ 1 billion
* More than 460 firearms delivered since the shootings at the Christchurch mosque

The announcement of the details of the repurchase scheme led to a lengthy discussion on what was fair, with both sides saying the deal needed to be fair or ineffective.

New Zealand would have to wait to see how the repurchase rolled out, and the number of weapons surrendered, before judging whether those responsible had managed to strike the right balance between the cost to taxpayers and the compensation to the owners.

On Thursday, Police Minister Stuart Nash and Finance Minister Grant Robertson announced the details of the amnesty and arms buyback scheme, which aims to remove all firearms and semi-automatic weapons from the population at large. general.

Licensed owners who hold these weapons legally will be compensated, and those who now own illegal weapons may illegally hand over them as part of a six-month amnesty.

So far, the government has invested $ 208 million for the repurchase, including $ 150 million in last month's budget, plus $ 18 million for administrative costs and another $ 40 million for ACC, in recognition of reduced damage costs caused by firearms. term.

The $ 208 million should need a boost, something the Finance Minister has committed. But uncertainty about the number of weapons currently in circulation and potential final costs remain a significant fiscal risk.

The government and the police worked together, with independent advice from KPMG and NZDF support, to create what they believe to be a fair repurchase scheme.

The government and the police worked together, with independent advice from KPMG and NZDF support, to create what they believe to be a fair repurchase scheme.

"The costs are uncertain, and you can imagine for a finance minister that it's not a position I want to be in. But it's just the reality of the situation we have," Robertson said on Thursday.

The schemes, which began on Thursday, would last six months, until December 20, with the first weapons expected to be delivered next month.

The plan was developed with KPMG's consulting firm, which consulted farmers, hunters, trafficker auctioneers and gun clubs, and would see owners compensating for a percentage of the "base price" or "fair market value" of the weapon.

The market value, or basis, did not represent the recommended retail value because it did not include profit margins – something that some firearms owners had advocated, including the Licensed Firearms Owners Council.

A weapon now banned in new or near-new condition would return 95 percent of base price, a weapon in used but safe working condition would return 70 percent of its value, and a weapon in poor condition, inoperable or unsafe to use, would return 25% of the base value.

Compensation for banned parts and magazines would be 70 percent of the base price for those in almost new or used conditions; and 25 percent for those in poor condition.

In the meantime, resellers would be compensated for the cost of the shares, which they had not been able to return to the distributors, but would not be offset by the lost profits. They would have to prove that they tried to return the shares to the distributors.

The government would also pay up to $ 300 for approved gun makers to modify illegal weapons to make them legal, which would result in owners being able to keep their weapons and the government saving taxpayer money. This would probably be done by restricting capacity – a process that, according to experts, would be difficult or impossible to reverse.

"The repurchase and amnesty have one goal: to remove the most dangerous weapons of circulation after the loss of life in Al-Noor and Linwood mosques on March 15," said Nash.

"The compensation scheme recognizes that licensed owners of firearms are now in possession of prohibited items without any fault of their own, but because of a law passed by almost the entire Parliament."

Robertson and Nash, and later Deputy Commissioner of Police Operations Mike Clement, strove to point out that the gun owners were in possession of illegal firearms without any fault of their own.

Nash said that the scheme's planning and process were "rigorous and meticulous."

And everyone was talking about striking a fair balance, both for gun owners and for taxpayers, when it came to who was compensated and how much.

"I made the commitment on Budget day, that we will finance a fair scheme, and we will find the money for it. This is a very important way to ensure that New Zealanders have confidence that we are fulfilling our commitment to do everything we can. we can ensure that March 15th and the events of that day are not repeated, "Robertson said.

What is fair?

Thursday's discussion centered on justice: what is a fair price for owners of firearms who were forced to surrender their property? And what was fair to the taxpayers who paid the bill?

During Thursday's press briefing, Nash was repeatedly asked why not compensate all gun owners – licensed or unlicensed – in order to get as much guns off the streets as possible.

Once again, he went back to what was fair when it came to compensating those who legally held those weapons against those who held them illegally.

It seemed that everyone had a slightly different view of what was fair, but Kiwis would not be able to judge whether the balance had been reached until after the repurchase.

If the scheme were fair, it would be effective, and the police would guarantee at least 13,500 illegal firearms through the scheme. (This was the number of licensed and now illegal weapons).

Of course, no one knew exactly how many MSSAs or other firearms were in general circulation – estimates put the number of all weapons between 1.2 and 1.5 million, but could be more.

Throughout the buyback debate, some have estimated that the final cost to the government would be much higher and potentially closer to $ 500 million.

Co-founder of newly formed Gun Control NZ pressure group Nik Green said he wanted the repurchase to be a success.

"For this to happen, owners of forbidden weapons need to be fairly compensated."

Finance Minister Grant Robertson (right) and Police Minister Stuart Nash said they would not compensate people who held firearms illegally, based on justice. These weapons would be taken off the streets by the police.


Finance Minister Grant Robertson (right) and Police Minister Stuart Nash said they would not compensate people who held firearms illegally, based on justice. These weapons would be taken off the streets by the police.

A similar sentiment was echoed by National Police spokesman Chris Bishop, who said the government had tried to create a fair and balanced process.

However, he questioned how effective it would be, and whether firearm owners would realize that the scheme would be fair and that they would like to sign if they did not receive the full market value.

Many homeowners would be left out of pocket, he said.

It was unrealistic that gun owners wanted the recommended retail price, but there were conflicting views on whether the government's market-based price list was a fair representation.

Although some gun owners were satisfied with the scheme in principle, others said that their weapons were not fairly priced on the list or were completely off the list.

Deputy chief of police Clement said the list could be altered by the police commissioner.

Federated Farmers spokesman Miles Anderson said at least 20 percent of the organization's membership was affected by the changes and could be further harmed if they had to travel to urban centers to hand over their weapons as part of the collection process of the police.

ACT leader David Seymour also backed against the rate being applied, saying the government risked creating a black market by offering a below-fair-market value.

"The only way for the government to recover all the newly forbidden firearms and keep the public safe is to offer the owners a reasonable compensation. It could not do that."

This was supported by those on the Blog Kiwi Gun page, which is run by Mike Loder, who is known to be an extreme defender of gun ownership.


Although the government tried to strike a balance, there would probably be some bearers of distressed firearms, which could increase Crown costs through legal action.

Some gun owners told the media that they would seek legal action if they felt they were being weakened.

There was a basic appeals process for those who believed they were most owed, and Nash said he was not concerned about the number of appeals or possible lawsuits. Or how it could raise the final cost to the Crown.

Those who wanted to appeal for a special assessment had to apply online, paying a fee of $ 120.00. If the police considered a specialized assessment, the government would cover the cost of the evaluation.

If gun owners were still unhappy, they could take him to the District Court, Nash said.

This is unlikely to be the route chosen by most gun owners, but the firearms lobby took the government to court earlier, and could not be dismissed this time around.


On Thursday, the police also outlined the rationale for the logistical feat they would have to carry out to receive, disarm and destroy the weapons delivered.

There will be four options for collection: large-scale events at centralized community sites; delivery of items to approved arms dealers; mass pickups by police and police stations.

After an arms robbery at the Palmerston North Police Station and an audit at police stations across the country, Clement and Nash made it clear that police stations were not well equipped to store firearms.

While they did not want to alienate people, they said delivering weapons at police stations was their "least preferred option." Currently, police were stocking 700 guns at stations across the country.

Clemente was careful with the details of transport, storage and where weapons would be crushed for scrap, since he did not want to create targets.

Deputy Chief of Police Mike Clement said police have a strict plan to ensure security around public collection events.


Deputy Chief of Police Mike Clement said police have a strict plan to ensure security around public collection events.

However, he said the necessary training was being conducted for police officers who would be present in the community collections.

He assured the public that there would be strict security measures at events that could see hundreds of people with guns in one place. That would involve some armed officers at the events.

Clement said there will be collection events held every weekend in the 15 regions wherever possible.

The first event would take place at the Addington Racecourse in Christchurch on Saturday, July 13, as a symbolic gesture.

Once a person had surrendered their weapons, they would be compensated in 10 days.


The debate over the arms laws did not end, with the buyback and amnesty until December.

Meanwhile, the government would soon file the second installment of changes to the weapons law, which should include a record of firearms.

Cabinet approved the high-level details of the second tranche of changes on Monday.

It is understood that Nash now wanted to work with National and other parties to once again gain broad support for changes in the law.

While some of the changes were likely to require legislative changes, some could be approved through new policies.

This story was originally published in and is republished with permission.


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