Rushed changes to legislation by Government has seen the wrong gun owners targeted by police in the six-month long gun buy-back and amnesty scheme.
That was the conclusion of Northlander Phil Cregeen, secretary of the Sport Shooters Association of New Zealand, who said lawful gun owners had been targeted rather than illegal gun owners and in particular gangs.
While police in Wellington heading the operation were unable to provide regional numbers until next year, nationally the Minister of Police Stuart Nash thanked around 33,000 firearms owners for helping make New Zealand a safer place by participating in the gun buyback with 60,907 prohibited firearms removed from circulation.
Types of assault rifles, high-capacity firearms and military style semi-automatics used in the Christchurch terror attack on March 15 were the target of the campaign that ended last week.
However, Cregeen said many firearms owners were unhappy about the process and their property they had lawfully bought had been confiscated and they had not all received the right amount of compensation.
"Everyone realises they have to comply with the law and they really don't have a choice but many are not happy about it," Cregeen said.
He said the number of firearms handed in was a long way short of the number of firearms estimated to be in the community.
"In that respect the buy-back hasn't been a success and hasn't made the community safer.
"The Government failed by rushing in these bans at very short notice. They should have waited until the Royal Commission of Inquiry was completed and then sat down with the firearms community and experts and worked out a proper way forward."
Cregeen, 75, who has handled firearms since he was 10 years old, handed over firearms that were from World War II and were historically significant. He said while he was compensated correctly, a lot of people had not been.
He said Government and police should instead of targeting lawful gun owners be putting the pressure on gangs and criminals.
Nash said police were moving to the next phase, to ensure firearms would not fall into the wrong hands.
"This is the objective of the proposed gun register and tighter licensing system. We are not done with efforts to remove unlawful firearms from circulation," Nash said.
Police are now approaching firearms licence holders who are known to still hold prohibited guns and they are being advised to voluntarily surrender them or face risk of prosecution, loss of licence and firearms, and five years' jail.
"Police will also keep up their focus on gangs and other criminals who unlawfully hold firearms. Around 1800 firearms have been seized from gangs and other offenders since March, during search warrants, vehicle stops, and callouts to family harm incidents.
If anyone has concerns about someone with a banned firearm, contact police by calling ten-five (105) or anonymously through Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.