New Zealand to Outlaw Military Style Weapons

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New Zealand will ban all types of semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles following the Christchurch attacks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said.

The announcement comes less than a week after a lone gunman allegedly killed 50 people at two mosques.

Ms Ardern said she expected new legislation to be in place by 11 April, saying: “Our history changed forever. Now, our laws will too.”

All of the dead have now been formally identified, police have confirmed.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, has been charged with one murder and was expected to face further charges.

However, police said on Thursday that the person he was formally accused of killing had been wrongly declared dead.

They said they had apologised to the woman and her family, and that the charge sheet would be updated when the suspect appeared in court on 5 April.

“Six days after this attack, we are announcing a ban on all military style semi-automatics (MSSA) and assault rifles in New Zealand,”Ms Ardern said in a news conference.

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

An amnesty has been imposed so the owners of affected weapons can hand them in, and a buy-back scheme will follow.

Ms Ardern said the buy-back could cost up to NZ$200m ($138m; £104m), but “that is the price that we must pay to ensure the safety of our communities”.

Our actions, on behalf of all New Zealanders, are directed at making sure this never happens again.

The prime minister has called the Christchurch attacker a terrorist and said she will not utter his name.

The gunman, armed with semi-automatic rifles including an AR-15, is believed to have modified his weapons with high-capacity magazines – the part of the gun, which stores ammunition – so they could hold more bullets. As of Thursday, several weapons have been reclassified as military style semi-automatic firearms, making them harder to buy.

“For many people, you will now be in unlawful possession of your firearm,” Police Commissioner Mike Bush said.

Semi-automatic weapons, also known as self-loading firearms, fire one bullet per trigger pull with no reloading required

  • They differ from fully automatic weapons, which continuously fire rounds as long as the trigger is pressed
  • An assault weapon can switch between semi-automatic or fully automatic modes
  • Semi-automatic weapons are typically pistols, rifles and shotguns, including the AR-15 rifle
  • AR-15 rifles can discharge between 45 and 60 rounds per minute

Ms Ardern said the legislation would be introduced when parliament sits in the first week of April.

There would be a “short, sharp select committee process” for feedback on technical aspects of the law, she said, and changes to the Arms Act should be passed within the session.

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

As with Australia’s gun reforms in 1996, exemptions will be made for farmers who need weapons for pest control and animal welfare.




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