All except for a single member of the New Zealand parliament have voted in favour of changes to the country’s gun laws in the wake of the Christchurch terror attack that killed over 50 people.
The bill passed 119-1 following the initial reading in parliament. Now it must receive royal assent from the Governor General before it can officially become law.
The laws are designed to ban the circulation of nearly all semi-automatic guns, high capacity magazines, tools that can convert magazine sizes and some shotgun variants. Speaking to Parliament, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden spoke emotionally about the fact that there were no “singly gunshot wounds” because every victim has been fired on multiple times.
She used it to argue why the law was necessary to limit the killing capacity of small arms accessible to civilians. She said that she “could not fathom how weapons that could cause such destruction and large-scale death could be obtained legally in this country.”
Ms Arden has been recognised globally for her compassionate leadership during the aftermath of New Zealand’s worst terrorist attack. Particularly, her showing of solidarity with New Zealand’s Muslim community was well-received internationally.
New Zealand’s parliament was able to put aside their political differences to pass the laws, with only 1 member dissenting from the vote.
When the law comes into effect, anyone possessing a prohibited firearm can face up to 5 years in prison. Some exemptions have been allowed for heirloom firearms and those used by farmers for professional pest control.