New Zealand bans semi-automatic guns | Daily News


New Zealand bans semi-automatic guns

New Zealand has banned semi-automatic weapons in the first in a series of sweeping changes promised by Jacinda Ardern in the aftermath of the mosque shootings last Friday that killed 50 people

The government on Thursday reclassified a range of semi-automatic weapons, effectively blocking most firearms licence holders from purchasing the military-style guns, in a bid to restrict the potential stockpiling of such weapons ahead of a formal law change being introduced to parliament in early April.

The government will implement a buyback scheme and an amnesty period for the weapons to be handed in to police.

“On 15 March our history changed forever. Now, our laws will too,” the prime minister said.

Stuart Nash, police minister, there would be “narrow exemptions” for legitimate use including pest control. This was in line with the approach taken in similar reforms by Australia after the Port Arthur massacre there in 1996 when 35 people were shot dead.

Brenton Tarrant, 28, who moved from Australia to New Zealand less than two years ago, has been charged over the country’s worst ever terrorist attack.

Experts have criticised lax controls on guns that allowed for a person aged 16 or over with an entry-level firearm licence to keep any number of common rifles and shotguns without an official record.

The swift gun law change comes ahead of inquiries into possible failings of government agencies — including police, intelligence, customs and immigration officials — in the lead up to the shootings.

Earlier on Thursday, a petition calling for tougher gun controls with more than 65,000 signatures was presented to politicians in Wellington.

There has also been an outpouring of support for the Muslim community in New Zealand with community leaders planning to form human chains around mosques during prayers on Friday and calls for the country’s women to wear headscarves in a show of solidarity.

Separately, large New Zealand investors have called on US tech groups to take more action in dealing with violent or extremist content published on their platforms after video footage of the terror attacks in Christchurch rapidly spread online.

The suspected Christchurch shooter posted a manifesto on Facebook and broadcast what appeared to be live footage of the attack, raising questions over how social media and internet groups including Google, Twitter and YouTube restrict violent footage.

“These companies’ social licence to operate has been severely damaged,” said Matt Whineray, chief executive of NZ Super Fund, the country’s major sovereign wealth fund. “An urgent remedy to this problem is required.”

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