Politicians in New Zealand back gun law change

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Politicians in New Zealand back gun law change


Gun owners will have until the end of September to hand them in through a buyback programme, after which point amnesty will end. Stock photo
Gun owners will have until the end of September to hand them in through a buyback programme, after which point amnesty will end. Stock photo

New Zealand’s parliament voted almost unanimously for a law that bans most semi-automatic weapons yesterday, less than a month after 50 people were killed by a gunman who opened fire on two mosques in Christchurch.

All of parliament’s 120 politicians except for one backed the reforms which make temporary restrictions, on military-style semi-automatic weapons, assault rifles and accompanying parts permanent. Gun owners will have until the end of September to hand them in through a buyback programme, after which point amnesty will end.

“I can recall very vividly the moment I knew that we would need to be here, doing what we are doing right now,” said New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

She described how the police commissioner had said the Christchurch weapons were bought legally and modified. “I could not fathom how weapons that could cause such destruction and large- scale death could have been obtained legally,” she said.

Firearms like the AR-15 used by the gunman in the attacks will now be banned.

Ms Ardern said she took into account concerns from farmers and the rural community.

Some semi-automatic guns with magazines holding less than 10 rounds and shotguns that can hold up to five rounds will be allowed, so those who legitimately use weapons for hunting purposes can do so.

The government consulted with the rural community, who said military-style weapons were not necessary.

In the wake of the attacks, some gun owners had already handed their weapons in. Many said they were doing so in solidarity with the victims.

Others, gun store owners said, had started stockpiling before a ban went into effect.

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