Wairarapa area commander Scott Miller and Sergent Kevin Basher outside the Masterton Smallbore Rifle Club on Saturday. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

ELI HILL
eli.hill@age.co.nz

Almost 500 guns have been handed in to police at buyback events across the region.

The third and final Wairarapa gun buyback event was held at the Masterton Smallbore Rifle Club at the weekend.

On Saturday, 79 people handed in 100 firearms, and on Sunday, 48 people handed in 67 firearms, bringing the Wairarapa-wide total to 498.

Most of the people handing in their firearms were farmers and hunters, and were generally men over 40.

It had been an encouraging weekend with a good turnout from the firearms community, inspector Terry van Dillen said.

“Some people are quite happy to be here, some people are on the fence, and some people are emotionally attached and not particularly happy to have to do this.

“In the end, it is what it is and they’re good citizens.”

Van Dillen said they’d even had people from Palmerston North handing in their firearms.

“We had one person here last time who had firearms handed down through the family – we’re talking generations – and it couldn’t be modified, so that was quite tough on him having to give that up.”

The police are now moving into the next phase of the buyback.

“For September, October, and part of November, we’re going to have one set up in Upper Hutt and people will have to start coming to us.

“From late November to December 20, we’re going to have three or four a week in Trentham Racecourse, open to the public.”

The buyback offer ends on December 20 this year.

While there is still the option of handing in firearms at police stations if people got in touch ahead of time, van Dillen said the buyback events were preferred and much quicker.

Police are also encouraging anyone with 10 or more firearms they want to hand in to get in contact to arrange a pickup.

Wairarapa area commander Scott Miller said that in addition to the buyback, people were able to bring in any firearms they wanted to dispose of.

“We’re very much wanting people to bring in firearms due to the amnesty.

“Anyone who has a firearm they don’t want – maybe they’ve been handed down from grandfathers, or fathers but they don’t use them – they can hand them in to us.”