Top New Zealand official signs sweeping gun laws

New Zealand’s governor general Patsy Reddy on Thursday signed into law sweeping gun restrictions banning most semiautomatic weapons, including the type used by a gunman in terror attacks last month at two mosques that left 50 people dead.

Under the law, the banned weapons will become illegal at midnight, according to the Associated Press.

The formal signing of the bill was expected after the law was approved by a 119-1 vote Wednesday in Parliament. 

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The legislation, which was introduced shortly after the shooting earlier this month, bans military-style semiautomatic weapons and parts that can be used to build weapons outlawed under the legislation. The gunman in last month's attacks used an AR-15.

Owners of the banned weapons will need to turn over their weapons as part of a buyback program.

Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Clement asked people in possession of the guns to notify police, according to the AP.

"The collection of firearms will occur at a later stage," he said.

“The Government acted quickly to change New Zealand’s firearms laws and Police is now responsible for implementing and enforcing these new laws,” Clement added.