New Zealand has bowed to ban semi-automatic rifles and high-capacity magazines less than a week after a mass shooting that left 50 people dead.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made the announcement on Thursday, saying, “Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terror attack on Friday will be banned.”
“On 15 March our history changed forever. Now our laws will too. We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place,” Ardern said.
“Today, I’m announcing that New Zealand will ban all military-style semi-automatic weapons. We will also ban all assault rifles. We will ban all high-capacity magazines. We will ban all parts with the ability to convert semi-automatic, or any other type of firearm, to a military-style semi-automatic weapon,” Ardern said.
“We will ban parts that cause a firearm to generate semi-automatic, automatic, or close to automatic gunfire,” she added.
Ardern added that legislation will be urgently introduced for the ban, and she hopes to sign it by April 11.
New Zealand currently requires all gun owners to possess a weapons license.
The shooter in last week’s attack had a Category A license and legally owned five guns, the Wall Street Journal reported. The weapons used in his attack consisted of two semi-automatic rifles, two shotguns and a lever-action rifle.
In her vow to ban “assault” weapons, Ardern’s vague language suggests that all of these weapons would be under threat of being banned.
New Zealand bans military-style rifles, prime minister says just six days after 50 killed in mosque attacks https://t.co/pLSeVoIAD1
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) March 21, 2019
“The guns used in this attack had the power to shoot continuously. The times for the easy availability of these weapons must end. And today, they will,” Ardern said.
The New Zealand Parliament is first expected to vote on an amendment to the 1983 Arms Act that would reclassify semi-automatic rifles as “military-style” ahead of the ban. Then the official legislation that would ban the firearms would be introduced in the first week of April.
A buyback program is under consideration, although estimated costs are $100-200 million for the 1.2 million guns estimated to be in New Zealand, CNN reported. Police stations would set up gun drops around the country for citizens to turn over their weapons.
“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,” Ardern said, adding that gun ownership is a privilege — not a right — in New Zealand.