New Zealand announces post-Christchurch gun law reform

New Zealand announces post-Christchurch gun law reform
Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern wearing a veil to show solidarity with the Islamic victims of the attack. Photo: Kirk Hargreaves, Wikimedia Commons

Following a terrorist attack that took the lives of 50 people, New Zealand is set to introduce stricter laws banning military grade semi-automatic weapons.

The reform comes after a renewed gun control debate in New Zealand following the attacks.

The primary weapon used in the attacks was an AR-15, a common assault rifle in the United States. The gun was also modified by the shooter to carry a higher amount of ammunition in a single clip – greatly increasing the mass killing potential of the weapon.

Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern said in her announcement of the new policy that that the ban would also target gadgets and accessories that make it possible to enhance the ammunition capacity or fire rate of fire of a weapon.

She flagged that the law would be in the books by the 11th of April, following the next two-week parliamentary sitting session in New Zealand. She said that “every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in this country,”

As a stopgap measure to prevent people stockpiling these weapons, licensing regulations have been changed meaning that would-be buyers need an impossible to obtain permit.

As for those who already own one of the offending weapons, Ms Ardern said that there would be “fair and reasonable” compensation in the form of a buyback scheme. She estimated the cost of such a scheme could be between $100 and $200 NZD.

There will also be an amnesty period to allow people to turn in their guns publically and without fear of prosecution.

Ms Ardern expressed that she believed responsible gun owners would cooperate without fuss because they understood the importance of law reform and that “it is about all of us”.

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