Whanganui Police are anticipating a flurry of activity over the weekend at the gun collection event at Wanganui Racecourse after a steady start on day one on Friday.

The event is part of the Government's amnesty and buyback scheme under the Arms (Prohibited Firearms, Parts and Magazines) Amendment Act 2019.

Whanganui Police Area Commander Inspector Nigel Allan said there was a steady stream of people on Friday morning, the first day of the event which continues on Saturday and Sunday from 10.30am to 3.30pm.

"It's hard to know how many we'll get but we've had more than 30 handed in on Friday morning so the weekend could be busy," Allan said.

Advertisement

People who attended the first day of the event were relatively happy about the process, he said.

"It is what it is - the law has changed and people are accepting of that. From our perspective it's about making it as easy as possible for people to go through the process.

"The key for us is around encouraging people to do the online process if they can because it speeds up the process when they get here. They need to record everything they're handing in and then it's a relatively quick process when they get here."

The start of the safety zone where Police check that firearms have been emptied of ammunition.
The start of the safety zone where Police check that firearms have been emptied of ammunition.

This week's three-day event is the first of three to be held in Whanganui. The others will be on September 27-29 and December 6-8. Collection events will also be held in Taihape on September 13-14 and October 25-26 and in Taumarunui on September 23-24 and October 15-16.

"We really encourage people to use these days as the preferred way of handing over their firearms," Allan said.

Police staff were on hand to check that people entering the racecourse entrance in Ingestre St were there for the buyback event and to check firearms and make sure ammunition was cleared from them before people took their guns inside for assessment.

Inside, five desks were set up for firearms specialists to assess the gun and determine how much money the owner would receive, according to a prescribed set of prices based on the make and model and the condition it was in.

"We've had some people go away pretty happy with the amount they're going to receive," Allan said.

Advertisement

"There have also been some surrendered firearms [that are not on the prohibited list]. It's a really easy way for people to get rid of firearms and ammunition they don't want any more."

Police and Whanganui Community Patrol members looked after people with a barbecue, tea and coffee and lollies. There was even a colouring-in table set up to keep the kids busy while they waited.

Gun owners need to enter through the Ingestre St entrance to Wanganui Racecourse.
Gun owners need to enter through the Ingestre St entrance to Wanganui Racecourse.

Mickey One Eye (Mike Russell), a member of Pistol New Zealand, has been hunting since he was 16 and was sad to part with his hunting rifle but happy with how the collection event was run.

"They have lightened the experience - I was joking with everybody and I met my local arms officer," he said.

"I'm very happy with the amount of money I'm getting.

"I bought that gun because of my eyesight. It meant I could get two or three shots at a deer instead of just one.

"The Government and the system shouldn't call it an evil weapon; it's a tool. It's the person and intent that's evil. They are using the wrong terminology. That's the part that annoys me."

Another man was delighted he was able to take his rifle home again after it was checked by police and determined not to be on the prohibited list.

Entry to the Whanganui collection event is via the Ingestre St entrance to the racecourse.

To speed up the process at the event, owners need to complete an online form on the Police website (www.police.govt.nz) before going to the event. They should list each firearm and/or each individual part they are taking to the collection.

Owners should also take their firearms licence (if applicable), photo identification (driver's licence or passport), bank account number, online notification reference number, all prohibited parts (cleared of all ammunition), any other non-prohibited firearms or parts they wish to hand in to Police and a valuation if they believe their firearm fits the unique prohibited criteria.

People who have more than 10 firearms, or whose firearms can be modified to make them non-prohibited, should complete an online notification form at www.police.govt.nz instead of going to a collection event.