Six days after New Zealand’s deadliest mass shooting that has resulted in the death of 50 people, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced the intent to ban military style semi-automatics and assault rifles.
“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” said Ms. Ardern in a statement. “All semi-automatic weapons used during the terrorist attack on Friday 15 March will be banned.”
Ardern expects the new laws to be in effect by April 11 and a buy-back scheme to be put in place, costing an estimated NZ$100-200 million. It is believed that there is currently around 1.5 million firearms owned by New Zealanders, 13,500 of them military style semi-automatic type weapons.
The newly prohibited firearms already in the community will face tight regulation while the new changes are coming into effect, with immediate changes to licensing regulations also aimed to restrict the purchase of the weapons.
After a period for returns, people who continue to possess these firearms will be in contravention of the law. Anyone in breach of the law will be liable for a NZ$4000 fine to up to three years imprisonment.
The accused gunman was awarded his Category A New Zealand gun license in November 2017. The perpetrator used two semiautomatic weapons, two shotguns, and a lever-action firearm in the shooting, weapons reportedly purchased in December 2017. The Prime Minister has stated that Police believe the weapons used had been modified.