Number of semi-automatic weapons surrendered not yet known

6:17 pm on 19 March 2019

The police cannot yet say how many gun owners have voluntarily surrendered their semi-automatic weapons, in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosque attacks.

19805786 - semi automatic black rifle on a pine needle and forest background

Photo: 123RF

On social media, some gun owners have posted about taking their guns to the police to be destroyed - and the prime minister is encouraging anyone who has contemplated following suit to do so.

Alan Knight, who lives on Waiheke Island, said he's decided to surrender his semi-automatic firearm.

"I'm going to hand it in and just ask the police to get rid of it."

Mr Knight said he was using it to shoot rabbits.

"If you miss with the first shot, the rabbit's going to move and it's nice to be able to take a second pop at them, but then again, I've always found my semi-automatic to be pretty inadequate for the job anyway - and if I use my bolt action rifle I generally don't miss."

Gun owners should be accepting of any changes the government makes to the law, Mr Knight said.

"Circumstances change and I for one think the government is on the right track with this one," he said.

RNZ has asked the police how many people have handed in their weapons since Friday's mass shooting.

Police said they were collating that information, but have no timeframe for when it might be released.

As part of the consideration of changes to gun laws, the government is also looking at a weapons buy back scheme, but Finance Minister Grant Robertson said he did not yet have a firm figure on how much it might cost.

Meanwhile, Queenstown pest controller Shaun Moloney said there were legitimate uses for semi-automatic weapons.

He said they are a useful tool for controlling wallaby and rabbit numbers in certain areas.

"Bolt action rifles are safer in built-up areas, but if you're in an open area, where there's absolutely no houses around, a semi-auto is a perfectly acceptable tool and it's a preferred tool for high numbers of rabbits."

Mr Moloney said there was some concern the government was planning a complete ban on semi-automatic weapons - which could curtail pest control operations.

"They are in use - a five shot fixed magazine on a semi-auto is a far cry from what was used last week and we have to discriminate on that and I don't know if that discrimination will occur or not."

There have been some reports of people panic-buying semi-automatic weapons, in anticipation of any law changes.

Yesterday, the owner of Gun City, David Tipple, denied that this was happening and instead said there had been people coming in to sell their semi-automatic weapons.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she asked for more information about the panic-buying reports.

"I did specifically ask that question, I think at this stage it remains anecdotal, but I will keep in touch with police on that issue, but at the moment they haven't reported to me anything that can verify those statements that have been made."

Police have advised anyone who wants to surrender their firearms to call the station first first before they take them in.

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