New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Thursday announced a nationwide ban on military-style semi-automatic assault rifles in the wake of the Christchurch mosque attacks. The decision was taken within a week after 50 people were massacred by a gunman who opened fire in two mosques last Friday.
Under the new law, the country will also ban assault rifles, high capacity magazines, and certain gun modification parts, according to reports.
"In short, every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack on Friday will be banned in this country," the prime minister said. "We are confident as a government that the vast majority of New Zealanders will support this change."
Ardern, in a statement, on Thursday added: "On March 15 our history changed forever. Now, our laws will too. We are announcing action today on behalf of all New Zealanders to strengthen our gun laws and make our country a safer place. Cabinet agreed to overhaul the law when it met on Monday, 72 hours after the horrific terrorism act in Christchurch." Ardern hoped the law would be in place by April 11.
Reports state that an amnesty would be put in place for the weapons to be handed in, with a buyback scheme which will be soon announced. The estimated cost of the endeavor is expected to be $NZ100 ($69 million) to $NZ200 million, according to the Daily Mail.
The prime minister Ardern also said that the amnesty and buyback scheme would assist in allowing people to hand in the banned weapons they currently own.
In a petition to the New Zealand government, over 70,000 citizens had called on the authorities for guns to be banned in the country. Reports state that there are an estimated 1.5 million firearms in New Zealand, which means nearly one for every three citizens and the number is more than double the rate in Australia.
Pest control, under the old law in the country, was considered a legal reason to own a military-style semi-automatic weapon and there were no restrictions on the number of guns a person could own.
"To owners who have legitimate uses for their guns, I want to reiterate that the actions being announced today are not because of you, and are not directed at you. Our actions, on behalf of all New Zealanders, are directed at making sure this never happens again," Ardern added.
Under the new law, police and military, as well as pest control workers and certain sportsmen and women would be exempted from the ban.