New Zealanders hand in 50,000 guns after assault weapon ban

Some of the firearms that have been removed from circulation as part of the firearms buyback and amnesty are pictured at the Papakura Police Station on December 21, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. Around 60,907 prohibited firearms have been removed from circulation at the conclusion of the six-month buyback amnesty. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

(AP)– New Zealanders have handed in more than 50,000 guns during a buyback program that ended midnight Friday.

The government banned assault weapons after a March massacre at two Christchurch mosques.

Authorities say the country will be a safer place as a result of the buyback, while critics say the process was flawed and many owners have illegally kept their weapons.

A parallel amnesty also let owners turn in guns without any questions asked. A lone gunman used a cache of semi-automatic weapons to kill 51 people during the mosque attacks.

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