Amnesty pointless without compo extension
WEDNESDAY 20 NOVEMBER 2019
Extending the amnesty period for the return of banned firearms is utterly pointless unless the compensation period is extended as well, says the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners (COLFO).
Owners of firearms banned following the Christchurch shootings have until December 20 to hand them in for compensation, after which they could be prosecuted if found in possession of them.
But police have now extended the amnesty indefinitely, meaning owners of banned guns will still be able to hand them in without penalty after December 20 but receive no compensation.
COLFO spokesperson Nicole McKee said the “permanent” amnesty was effectively an admission by police that the programme had been a failure.
“The process has been badly handled by the Government and police from the start. Firearms owners have no reason to trust them to be fair and reasonable because we’ve been repeatedly treated unfairly.
“That’s why this whole process has been a failure. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If the Government and police are serious about getting all prohibited firearms handed in, then they must extend the compensation period as well, at the very least. Otherwise, there’s no incentive and people will only hold on to their firearms.”
COLFO was pleased that officials had been speaking with their counterparts in Australia to learn from that country’s experience of banning certain types of firearms and compensating owners handing them in.
“But whether they’ll take that advice is another matter,” says McKee. “In Australia, for example, compensation was set at 115% of the retail price of a firearm; here it’s worked out to be an average 75% of wholesale value. It’s disincentivised owners from handing firearms in and that’s another huge reason why the programme is failing. Then there is the fact that the Australian system ran for 12 months."
“We’re sure (Minister of Police) Stuart Nash and the police will have been told this in no uncertain terms by the Australians.”