- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The New Zealand government on Thursday banned the sale of “military-style semi-automatic rifles,” six days after a gunman killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch.

“What we are banning today are the things used in last Friday’s attack,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a news conference.

She said more changes to New Zealand’s firearms laws on matters such as licensing, registration and storage would come next week.

“That will be in the second tranche” of changes, she said Thursday.

Ms. Ardern said the immediate ban, which takes effect Thursday afternoon, covers more than military-style rifles but other items used in last week’s mosque attack.

“We will also ban all assault rifles. 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 said.

She also instituted a mandatory buyback program, in acknowledgment that many such weapons now exist.

“Fair and reasonable compensation” will be paid, she told reporters.

Ms. Ardern acknowledged however, that she doesn’t know how many such weapons are in circulation among New Zealanders.

“We’re very much in the dark” on that, she said.

When asked whether people who might hold such guns illegally would be arrested if they turned them in, she said that would not happen: “Amnesty applies. We just want the guns back.”

According to a fact sheet distributed to reporters in New Zealand and reprinted by the Guardian, the ban only covers military-style weapons and does not cover two general classes of firearms “commonly used for hunting, pest control, stock management on farms, and duck shooting:

“Semi-automatic .22 calibre rimfire firearms with a magazine which holds no more than ten rounds.

“Semi-automatic and pump action shotguns with a non-detachable tubular magazine which holds no more than five rounds.”

According to the fact sheet, the Cabinet will discuss the further changes March 25. They will include:

“Tighten firearms licensing and penalties;

“Impose greater controls over a range of ammunition;

“Address a number of other issues relevant to special interest groups such as international sports shooters and professional pest controllers, such as [Department of Conservation];

“Future proof the Arms Act to ensure it is able to respond to developments in technology and society.”

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