New Zealand bans sale of semi-automatic guns, assault rifles

New Zealand bans sale of semi-automatic guns, assault rifles
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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Wednesday that the country would ban the sale of all assault rifles and semi-automatic guns, less than a week after a shooter opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, killing 50 people. 

"Today I am announcing that New Zealand will ban all military-style semi-automatic weapons. We will also ban all assault rifles," Ardern said at a press conference, according to The Guardian.

"We will ban all high-capacity magazines. We will ban all parts with the ability to convert semi-automatic or any other type of firearm into a military-style semi-automatic weapon. We will ban parts that cause a firearm to generate semi-automatic, automatic or close to automatic gunfire," she continued.

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The prime minister announced the new ban would take effect at 3 p.m. local time, with Ardern warning that dealers "should now cease" selling assault rifles and semi-automatic guns.

"In short, every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in this country," Ardern said.

Ardern vowed swiftly after Friday’s attacks that New Zealand’s gun laws would change. The primary suspect in the attack, an Australian man, obtained a gun license in November 2017 and began legally purchasing his guns a month later, she said following the shooting. 

"This is just the beginning of the work we need to do," Ardern said Wednesday, noting that the Cabinet will meet next week to discuss any further amendments to the legislation and to address any loopholes, according to The Guardian.

"It is about all of us. It is in the national interest, and it is about safety. I will work hard to retain that support as we work on the remaining tranches of reform that we must make to prevent an act of terror happening in our country ever again," she added.

The prime minister noted that many citizens of the island nation own such weapons legally and have not used them for violent purposes. She announced that she was implementing a buyback program that would be run through local police to offer "fair and reasonable compensation" to gun owners. 

Ardern said the buyback program is estimated to cost between $100 million and $200 million but said it is a necessary price "to ensure the safety of our communities."

She also added that penalties would be put in place for gun owners who do not hand in such weapons, according to the outlet.

The prime minister said she expected broad support for the ban, stating, "I have had people unprompted tell me that they own guns and use them for legitimate purposes — members of our rural communities —and they support what we are doing.”

Updated 11:11 p.m.