NZ to ban all military style weapons – PM

Jacinda ArdernImage copyright
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New Zealand’s PM said she hoped the ban would be in place by 11 April

New Zealand will ban all types of semi-automatic weapons used in the Christchurch attacks, PM Jacinda Ardern has said.

The country’s gun laws have been in the spotlight since a gunman killed 50 people at two mosques last Friday.

Ms Ardern said she expected new legislation to be in place by 11 April.

She said an amnesty would be imposed so the owners of affected weapons could hand them in, along with a buy-back scheme.

“Now, six days after this attack, we are announcing a ban on all military-style semi-automatics (MSSA) and assault rifles in New Zealand,” the prime minister said.

“Related parts used to convert these guns into MSSAs are also being banned, along with all high-capacity magazines.”

Ms Ardern said officials estimated that the buy-back could cost “anywhere between $100m ($69m; £52m) and $200m. But that is the price that we must pay to ensure the safety of our communities”.

The lone gunman armed with semi-automatic rifles including an AR-15 killed people as they prayed on Friday. He is believed to have modified his weapon with a high-capacity magazine.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, who has been charged with murder, obtained a firearm license in New Zealand in 2017.

Addressing the impact on gun-owners, the PM said she knew “many of you will have acted within the law”. She said weapons used by farmers for pest control and animal welfare would be subject to exemptions, including “0.22 calibre rifles and shotguns commonly used for duck hunting”.

“I strongly believe that the vast majority of legitimate gun owners in New Zealand will understand that these moves are in the national interest, and will take these changes in their stride,” she added.

Victims of the Christchurch shootings

The PM said measures would be imposed to prevent a rush of buying before the law comes in.

New Zealand’s police minister Stuart Nash said of the development: “I want to remind that it is a privilege and not a right to own a firearm in New Zealand.”

How will the law be changed?

Ms Ardern said legislation to bring in the ban would be introduced when the country’s parliament sits in the first week of April.

She said there would be a “short, sharp Select Committee process” for feedback on technical aspects of the law, and that changes to the Arms Act should be passed within Parliament’s next session.

Once the amnesty period ends, anyone in possession of a banned weapon will face a fine of up to $4,000 and three years in jail.

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