New Zealand is making immediate changes to its gun legislation after last week attack during which a gunman shot and killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hosted a press conference in the nation’s capital, Wellington, to announce a ban on all military-style semiautomatic weapons on Thursday.
“On 15, March our history changed forever. 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,” Ardern began.
Detailing the changes that were slated to take place, she said, “Today, I’m announcing New Zealand will ban all military-style semiautomatic weapons. We will also ban all assault rifles. We will ban all high-capacity magazines. We will ban all parts with the ability to convert semiautomatic or any other type of firearm into a military-style semiautomatic weapon.”
Providing more context into the nation’s decision, Arden said, “The guns used in these terrorist attacks had important distinguishing features,” she said. “First, big capacity, and also their delivery. They had the power to shoot continuously, but they also had large capacity magazines.”
According to CNN, there are an estimated 1.2 million guns in New Zealand. Ardern offered compensation for those willing to turn in their guns. She said a buyback program could cost between $100 million to $200 million.
Police Commissioner Mike Bush revealed police stations would establish gun drops where citizens could safely hand in guns. “I can’t emphasize enough that in the current environment it is important you do not take your now-unlawful firearm anywhere without notifying police. It is absolutely vital that we manage the safe and organized transport of all firearms into police custody,” he said.
While the country is making strides to remove guns, The New York Times said there will be exceptions to the laws, especially in rural areas.
Prior to the March 15 massacre, New Zealand’s last mass shooting happened 30 years ago.
Ardern said she hoped the nationwide law would be in place by April 11, the end of Parliament’s next session.