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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern Announces Assault Rifle Ban

The new law comes just six days after the mass shooting at two Christchurch mosques

Less than a week on from the Christchurch shootings where 50 people were killed and dozens more injured, Jacinda Ardern and the New Zealand government have changed the country’s gun laws. 

Prime Minister Ardern announced that all military-style semiautomatic weapons, assault rifles and high-capacity magazines in New Zealand. “On 15 March our history changed forever,” she said during a press conference. “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.”

“Six days after this attack, we are announcing a ban on all military-style semiautomatics (MSSA) and assault rifles in New Zealand,” she continued. “Related parts used to convert these guns into MSSAs are also being banned, along with all high-capacity magazines.” Even the leader of the country’s opposition party, Simon Bridges, is supportive of the ban, signalling widespread support. He said it was “imperative in the national interest [that] we keep New Zealanders safe.”

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“Every semiautomatic weapon used in the terror attack on Friday will be banned,” Ardern continued. “This legislation will be drafted and introduced in urgency.” New Zealand will offer an amnesty period for those owning firearms that will now be reclassified as illegal, and a buyback program is planning to be part of the new legislation too. According to the BBC, the buyback program could cost New Zealand up to $194 million AUD, but “that is the price that we must pay to ensure the safety of our communities,” says Ardern.

Ardern’s swift action in the wake of the shooting has prompted many to call out the United States for their inaction on its gun laws. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) tweeted. “Christchurch happened, and within days New Zealand acted to get weapons of war out of the consumer market. This is what leadership looks like.”

Ardern says New Zealand’s new gun regulations may be in place as soon as April 11.

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