Asia-Pacific

Plans to open gun mega store in Christchurch sparks backlash

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A gun retailer's plans to open a mega store in Christchurch has upset residents just months after a gunman killed 51 people at two mosques in the city.

New Zealand retailer Gun City, which sold weapons to the man accused of shootings at two Christchurch mosques that killed 51 people, has aroused concern with plans for a megastore in the South Island city, media reports say.

Radio New Zealand said some of those living near the proposed site were upset at the prospect of the store, sprawling over 300sqm, along with warehouse, office and car park, set to open in August.

"I don't think many people will be very comfortable to have guns around their homes in a residential area," one of the residents, Harry Singh, told the broadcaster.

The location is just 1km from the racetrack where New Zealand held its first firearms buyback on Saturday, four months after its worst peacetime mass shooting.

The accused gunman, Australian Brenton Tarrant, bought four weapons and ammunition between December 2017 and March 2018, Gun City owner David Tipple said in March.

The Australian has pleaded not guilty to 92 charges over the attacks, including New Zealand's first terrorism charge.

Mr Tipple told Radio New Zealand he was sorry some people were concerned about the new store, but the chain was "willing and happy to introduce those persons to the positives of firearms".

A gun reform law passed in April bars the circulation and use of most semi-automatic firearms, parts to convert firearms into semi-automatics, magazines over a certain capacity and some shotguns.

The government has allotted $NZ208 million ($A198.7 million) for buybacks nationwide to compensate gun owners who surrender banned weapons.

Police took in 224 firearms on Saturday, with 22 similar events scheduled this week.

With a population of just under 5 million and an estimated 1.5 million firearms, New Zealand ranks 17th in the world in numbers of civilian firearms owners, the Small Arms Survey shows.

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