Fri, Mar 22, 2019 - Page 1 News List

NZ bans ‘military-style’ guns, valid immediately

SECOND ROUND:Another set of reforms on licensing, registration and storage of firearms is to be presented to the Cabinet on Monday, the prime minister said

The Guardian

Customers look at firearms and accessories on display at a gun shop in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Tuesday.

Photo: Reuters

Assault rifles and military-style semi-automatics have been banned in New Zealand after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced sweeping and immediate changes to gun laws following the Christchurch mosque shootings.

“I absolutely believe there will be a common view amongst New Zealanders, those who use guns for legitimate purposes and those who have never touched one, that the time for the mass and easy availability of these weapons must end. And today they will,” Ardern said.

Parts used to convert guns into military-style semi-automatics (MSSAs) have also been banned, as well as high-capacity magazines and parts that cause a firearm to generate semi-automatic, automatic or close-to-automatic gunfire.

The ban came into effect at 3pm yesterday — the time of the news conference.

Ardern also directed officials to develop a gun buyback scheme for those who already own such weapons, saying that “fair and reasonable compensation” would be paid.

The buyback scheme is estimated to cost between NZ$100 million and NZ$200 million (US$69 million and US$137.9 million). Ardern said the government was still working out how to fund it.

New Zealand, a nation of fewer than 5 million people, has an estimated 1.2 million to 1.5 million firearms.

The number of MSSA weapons is not known, but there are 13,500 firearms that require the owner to have an E-Cat license, which the government is using to estimate the number of MSSAs.

New Zealand Minister of Police Stuart Nash said they “have no idea” how many assault rifles are in circulation.

“It’s part of the problem,” Nash said. “The prime minister gave a figure for the buyback [cost]; the reason there’s such a large gap is we have no idea.”

“To owners who have legitimate uses for their guns, I want to reiterate that the actions being announced today are not because of you, and are not directed at you,” Ardern said. “Our actions, on behalf of all New Zealanders, are directed at making sure this never happens again.”

The measures were praised internationally, with Rebecca Peters, who helped lead the successful campaign to reform Australia’s gun laws in the 1990s, saying: “Its been the fastest response ever by a government after a tragedy.”

US Senator Bernie Sanders said: “This is what real action to stop gun violence looks like” and called on the US to follow New Zealand’s lead.

US National Rifle Association spokesperson Dana Loesch responded to Sanders on Twitter saying: “The US isn’t NZ. While they do not have an inalienable right to bear arms and to self defense, we do.”

New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush urged people to surrender any weapons that have been reclassified as illegal to police.

Police are asking people to contact them online to register firearms they need to surrender.

Bush urged New Zealanders not to walk into a police station carrying their weapon without calling ahead first.

“The first step is to encourage people to do it voluntarily,” Bush said. “I’m sure that the majority of people will do so. We will then be working with people to ascertain if they haven’t complied and once that period of grace or amnesty goes, those people can, and in all likelihood will, be prosecuted.”

A second series of reforms is to be presented to the Cabinet on Monday, including issues such as licensing, registration and storage.

“There are a range of other amendments that we believe do need to be made and that will be the second tranche of reforms yet to come,” Ardern said.

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