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Is NZ's gun buyback scheme unfair, or protecting firearms owners from themselves?

Yesterday's announcement regarding how much the Government will pay for gun buybacks has only entrenched fears by firearms owners that they are being criminalised and treated unfairly, a gun lobbyist said today.

But the buyback criteria are reasonable and could potentially even save some gun owners from themselves, a gun control activist countered as the two sides debated the issue on TVNZ1's Breakfast. 

The Government announced yesterday it would set aside an extra $40 million for the firearms buyback scheme, bringing the total to more than $200 million.

Officials also announced that gun owners turning in newly prohibited military-style semi-automatic weapons would be compensated with 95 per cent of wholesale price for new and in-new condition firearms, 70 per cent for those in used condition and 25 per cent for guns in poor condition.

But Council of Licenced Firearms Owners spokesperson Nicole McKee said today the buyback scheme, put in place after the Christchurch terrorist attacks on March 15 that killed 51 people, needs to change.

"If you've paid full retail price for an item legally and then it was confiscated off you, you'd expect to get back what you paid for it - not up to 25, 70 or 95 per cent," she said. "That's just not fair.

"It's about remembering that [firearm owners] didn't commit this atrocity - they're just being made the scapegoats for it....We don't mind handing our firearms over as long as we are getting the right amount for them."

She said the current compensation package makes firearms owners feel criminalised.

The Government, she said, is "targeting the law abiding, and it's the criminal element we should be focusing on".

"The vast majority of gun owners are law abiding people."

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The organisation’s co-founder, Philippa Yasbek, agrees with the Government’s buyback scheme proposal. Source: Breakfast

However, Gun Control NZ co-founder Philippa Yasbek voiced support for yesterday's announcements, and the buyback scheme as a whole.

"We don't see this as a punishment," she told Breakfast. "People are not being criminalised unless they are choosing not to comply with the law.

"Even someone who is fit and proper and owns one of these weapons are still imposing a risk - both on themselves and everyone else.  They may do nothing wrong but someone could break into the house and steal the weapon and go on a rampage."

Most gun deaths are actually suicides, she also pointed out. 

"So the biggest risk is to the gun owners themselves," Ms Yasbek said.

"We just don't think there is a need for people to have these high-powered weapons," she added. "These weapons are not designed for anything other than killing people - they're military weapons designed to kill lots of people really fast.

"I don't think someone's hobby is really worth imposing that risk on anybody else."

Source: TVNZ

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Nicole McKee from the Council of Licenced Firearms Owners says there needs to be major changes in the buyback scheme. Source: Breakfast