New Zealand bans guns used in mosque attack

New Zealand takes another step towards banning guns used in mosque attack
3 min read
01 April, 2019
The bill to ban the guns used in the March mosque shooting in Christchurch that killed 50 worshippers could pass with unanimous support.
Police Minister Stuart Nash said if passed, the law will take effect on April 12[Getty]

New Zealand's government on Monday introduced a bill it plans to rush into law that would ban the types of weapons a right-wing gun man used to kill 50 people at two mosques.

Police Minister Stuart Nash said that if lawmakers pass the bill as expected, the new law will take effect 12 April, less than a month after the 15 March attacks.

Plans for law changes were first announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in the days after the attacks, when the government imposed an immediate ban on the sales of such weapons.

The bill has bipartisan support and could even pass with a unanimous vote of all 120 lawmakers.

"These are guns that are designed to kill people," Nash said.

Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian accused of the attack, shocked New Zealand and the world when he entered two mosques in Christchurch and livestreamed on Facebook his gunning down Friday prayer goers.

All the weapons the gunman used in the attacks would be banned - including an AR-15 style rifle.

The bill would ban "military-style" semi-automatic guns and high-capacity magazines. It would also ban semi-automatic shotguns that could be fitted with detachable magazines and pump-action shotguns that can hold more than five rounds.

The bill wouldn't ban guns often used by farmers and hunters, including semi-automatic .22-caliber or smaller guns that hold up to 10 rounds, or shotguns that hold up to five rounds.

Nash said the gunman had left a national legacy of harm, pain and grief. Twenty-thousand attended a national rememberance service on Friday to commemorate those who died in the tragic shootings. 

Comment: We told you the threat is white supremacy. You ignored us

He said the gunman was able to buy semi-automatic guns and high-capacity magazines legally, and then put them together to create military-style weapons.

"The loophole that this terrorist used to kill 50 people was totally unacceptable," Nash said. "We're closing that down."

The bill would also impose tougher penalties for people who use the weapons after they are banned. Lawmakers intend to introduce more legislation later in the year, including the creation of a register to track guns.

The government intends to compensate owners of banned guns in a buy-back scheme that will cost up to 200 million New Zealand dollars ($137 million). An amnesty will give people until 30 September to hand over banned weapons.

Nash said that so far, about 200 people have handed in their guns but many are waiting for the buyback scheme's details, which haven't yet been announced.

Conservative lawmaker David Seymour alone has expressed reservations about the bill, mainly over the speed at which it's being progressed. A spokesman said Monday that Seymour was not yet familiar enough with the bill to say which way he'd vote.

There will be some exemptions from the ban including police officers, military personnel and some authorized pest controllers.