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New Zealand Bans Assault Rifles in Wake of Deadly Attacks


(Bloomberg) — New Zealand has banned army fashion semi-automatics and assault rifles and can set up a nationwide buyback of the weapons within the wake of a terrorist assault on two mosques that left 50 individuals lifeless.

The ban takes speedy impact to forestall stockpiling of firearms whereas the laws is being drafted, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern instructed reporters on Thursday. Additional adjustments in gun legal guidelines to tighten licensing and improve controls over ammunition shall be made in coming months.

“I strongly imagine that the overwhelming majority of reliable gun homeowners in New Zealand will perceive that these strikes are within the nationwide curiosity, and can take these adjustments of their stride,” she stated. “What we’re banning right now are the issues that have been utilized in final Friday’s assault.”

In sharp distinction with the U.S., the place a string of gun massacres have did not spur political motion, Ardern’s announcement comes simply days after the worst mass taking pictures in New Zealand’s fashionable historical past. On March 15, a lone gunman attacked Muslim worshippers throughout afternoon prayers within the South Island metropolis of Christchurch, filming and live-streaming the assault to social media. A 28-year-old Australian man was arrested and charged with homicide.

Police recovered two semi-automatic weapons, two shotguns and a lever-action firearm, which the attacker might personal legally as a result of he had a category-A gun license. A loophole within the legislation made it simple to transform commonplace semi-automatics to military-style weapons by inserting an unregulated high-capacity journal.

That loophole will now be closed, with all components used to transform assault rifles into army fashion semi-automatics, or MSSAs, additionally being banned. The adjustments exclude low-capacity semi-automatic shotguns and 0.22 caliber rifles, that are generally utilized by farmers and hunters.

“These are preliminary measures however they’re an excellent begin, particularly as a result of the federal government’s response has been so fast,” stated Hera Cook dinner, a lecturer in public well being in Wellington for the College of Otago. Within the U.S., a politicized gun foyer backed by business pursuits has championed the Second Modification proper to bear arms, making gun-law reform much more troublesome, she stated.

Political Unity

New Zealand’s shock on the terrorist assault has united all mainstream political events behind the federal government’s push to tighten gun legal guidelines. The primary opposition Nationwide Celebration welcomed right now’s announcement, and the farmers’ foyer group stated whereas some can be dissatisfied, a clampdown was “the accountable path to take.”

Cook dinner continues to be involved in regards to the variety of proposed exemptions, together with entry for farmers to semi-automatics, and stated she hopes a gun registry shall be introduced within the subsequent tranche of reforms.

The federal government estimates there are 13,500 MSSAs within the nation. Particulars of the buyback, which might price between NZ$100 million and NZ$200 million ($140 million), are nonetheless being finalized, Ardern stated.

In its response to the mosque shootings New Zealand has appeared to Australia, which acted shortly to tighten gun legal guidelines after the 1996 Port Arthur bloodbath left 35 lifeless.

Australian Instance

Prime Minister John Howard’s authorities pushed by way of laws that banned sure semi-automatic weapons and launched new licensing guidelines. A nationwide firearms registry was established, and the federal government purchased again and destroyed 640,000 civilian-owned weapons.

Televised photos from the time present truckloads of weapons being dumped.

After the reforms, the whole variety of homicides involving a firearm decreased by half, and the variety of gun-related deaths additionally fell. The adjustments have been credited with all however ending mass shootings within the nation.

Samara McPhedran, director of the Murder Analysis Unit at Griffith College in Australia, stated the measures introduced by New Zealand aren’t as robust as Australia’s response.

“Australia primarily banned all semi-automatic firearms, each sporting configuration and army configuration,” she stated in an emailed assertion. “Australia additionally banned pump-action shotguns. New Zealand’s adjustments don’t go wherever close to that far.”

Ardern stated she was assured the reforms would have an identical impact and shut the hole between the 2 nations on gun regulation.

Gun Possession

New Zealand’s murder fee is nicely under the worldwide common, however gun possession has risen prior to now decade to grow to be one of many world’s highest charges per capita. The federal government stated right now there are an estimated 1.2 million to 1.5 million firearms within the nation, which has a inhabitants of just below 5 million individuals.

The terrorist assault shocked New Zealand, a peaceable nation within the South Pacific the place gun violence is comparatively uncommon. There was an outpouring of grief and emotion because the nation struggles to understand how one thing so abhorrent might happen.

“On 15 March our historical past modified ceaselessly; now our legal guidelines will too,” Ardern stated. “To homeowners who’ve reliable makes use of for his or her weapons, I wish to reiterate that the actions being introduced right now should not due to you, and should not directed at you. Our actions, on behalf of all New Zealanders, are directed at ensuring this by no means occurs once more.”

(Updates with educational remark in seventh and 15th paragraphs.)

–With help from Jason Scott.

To contact the reporters on this story: Tracy Withers in Wellington at [email protected];Matthew Brockett in Wellington at [email protected]

To contact the editors accountable for this story: Edward Johnson at [email protected], Peter Vercoe

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