New Zealand bans sale of assault, semi-automatic rifles: PM

Weapons ban aims ‘to prevent an act of terror from ever happening again in our country’, prime minister says.

At least 50 people were killed in an attack on two mosques in Christchurch on Friday [Mark Baker/AP]
New Zealand has banned the sale of assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons after the country’s worst-ever attack that killed 50 people in two mosques.

“Be assured this is just the beginning of the work we’ll be doing,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told a news conference on Thursday.

“It’s in the national interest and it’s about safety … to prevent an act of terror from ever happening again in our country,” she said of the ban.

Ardern said she expects the new law to be in place by April 11 and buy-back schemes will be established for banned weapons.

“Now, six days after this attack, we are announcing a ban on all military style semi-automatics (MSSA) and assault rifles in New Zealand,” Ardern said.

She said the man arrested in the attacks on two Christchurch mosques had purchased his weapons legally and enhanced their capacity by using 30-round magazines “done easily through a simple online purchase”.

“Related parts used to convert these guns into MSSAs are also being banned, along with all high-capacity magazines,” she said.

“In short, every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in this country.”

Ardern said the interim measures announced on Thursday will stop a rush of purchases before legislation on the measures takes effect next month.

She added there would be some limited exemptions for New Zealand’s farmers, many of whom require firearms for pest control and management of their livestock.

Ardern’s move came six days after a gunman entered the Al Noor and Linwood mosques and killed 50 people in an indiscriminate shooting spree.

Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a white supremacist who was living in Dunedin, on New Zealand’s South Island, has been charged with murder following the attack.

He was remanded without a plea and is due back in court on April 5, when police said he was likely to face more charges.

The scale of the attack has caused global revulsion, including for Tarrant’s use of social media to livestream the carnage in real-time.

In a rambling “manifesto”, he said he was motivated partly by a desire to stoke religious conflict between Islam and the West by targetting “invaders”.

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