March 20, 2019 10:26 pm
Updated: March 20, 2019 11:04 pm

New Zealand PM announces ban on semi-automatic and assault rifles after mosque shooting

WATCH: New Zealand PM announces ban of 'military-style' semi automatic weapons, assault rifles

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New Zealand will ban military style semi-automatic and assault rifles under tough new gun laws following the killing of 50 people in the country’s worst mass shooting, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday.

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

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“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.

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

READ MORE: Some New Zealanders voluntarily surrender guns in wake of mosque shooting

A lone gunman armed with semi-automatic rifles including an AR-15, last Friday killed 50 people in two mosque attacks in Christchurch.

Australia banned semi-automatic weapons and launched a gun buy-back after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 in which 35 people were gunned down.

The AR-15 was used at Port Arthur and has been used in a number of high-profile U.S. mass shootings.

WATCH: New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern vows ‘our gun laws will change’

“On 15 March 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,” Ardern said.

“All semi-automatic weapons used during the terrorist attack on Friday 15 March will be banned.”

Ardern said that similar to Australia, the new gun laws will allow for strictly enforced exemptions for farmers to conduct pest control and animal welfare.

“I strongly believe that the vast majority of legitimate gun owners in New Zealand will understand that these moves are in the national interest, and will take these changes in their stride.”

Federated Farmers, which represent thousands of farmers, said it supported the change.

“This will not be popular among some of our members but after a week of intense debate and careful consideration by our elected representatives and staff, we believe this is the only practicable solution,” Federated Farmers Rural Security spokesman Miles Anderson said in a statement.

New Zealand, a country of less than 5 million people, has an estimated 1.2 to 1.5 million firearms, around 13,500 of them MSSA type weapons.

The minimum legal age to own a gun in New Zealand is currently 16, or 18 for military-style semi-automatic weapons.

© 2019 Reuters

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