(CNN)New Zealand's proposed buyback of semi-automatic firearms could cost as much as $300 million NZD ($200 million), Winston Peters, the country's deputy prime minister, said Tuesday.
New Zealand firearm buyback cost could reach $300 million NZD
In the wake of the Christchurch terrorist attacks on March 15 which killed 50 people, New Zealand has acted swiftly to change its gun laws.
On Tuesday, a bill which proposes banning semi-automatic firearms, magazines and parts used to assemble illegal firearms passed its first reading in Parliament, gaining the support of every lawmaker in the house, bar one.
If the bill passes, gun owners will have an amnesty until September to hand in their weapons and be compensated as part of a proposed buyback scheme.
The government had previously said the proposed buyback could cost between $100 to $200 million NZD ($68 and $136 million), but on Tuesday morning Peters revised the estimate to $300 million NZD ($200 million).
"Now, this is an extravagant statement but it may well be true -- it could cost up to $300 million to set what's wrong right," he told CNN affiliate Radio New Zealand (RNZ). He admitted the government was unable to assess the full cost of the scheme, as it didn't know how many weapons, or what kind, it would need to buy back.
In New Zealand, gun owners require a license, but do not have to register their weapons, meaning no one knows for certain how many guns are in circulation.
The New Zealand Police estimates that there are around 1.2 million firearms in the country. As of Monday, 211 firearms had been handed in to police, with some gun owners even doing so before the proposed law changes had been announced, according to a statement from New Zealand Police.
But Nicole McKee, the secretary of the Council of Licensed Firearms Owners, disputed the government's buyback sum, telling RN