Less than a week after the massacre that took 50 lives at two Christchurch mosques and shattered untold others, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has banned all assault weapons from the country.
“On 15 March our history changed forever,” Ardern said in a statement on Thursday. “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.”
On Monday, just 72 hours after what she immediately dubbed a “terrorism act,” the Cabinet had agreed to overhaul the law, the prime minister said.
“Now, six days after this attack, we are announcing a ban on all military style semi-automatics (MSSA) and assault rifles in New Zealand,” she said.
Also banned are parts that can convert lesser guns into military-style semiautomatic assault weapons, she added, and all high-capacity magazines.
“An amnesty will be put in place for weapons to be handed in, and Cabinet has directed officials to develop a buyback scheme. Further details will be announced on the buyback in due course,” her statement said. “All semi-automatic weapons used during the terrorist attack on Friday 15 March will be banned. 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.”
The legislation to enact the ban will be introduced when Parliament reconvenes in April, she said.
“The actions announced today are the first step of the Government’s response,” Ardern said. “We will continue to develop stronger and more effective licensing rules, storage requirements and penalties for not complying with gun regulations. It is the Government’s intention that these amendments will go through the full legislative process.”
New Zealanders seemed to approve.
“The prime minister is amazing,” said Polly Collins, 64, of Christchurch, to the Associated Press. “It’s not like in America, where they have all these things and then they go ‘Oh yeah, we’ll deal with the gun laws,’ and nothing’s done.”
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