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Crime

How the Christchurch terror attacks led to gun-law reform in New Zealand

WATCH: After the March 15 shooting, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern quickly pushed for changes to the nation’s gun laws.

As New Zealand marks one month since the deadliest shooting in the country’s modern history, the nation has now introduced sweeping changes to its guns laws.

It has now formally banned military-style weapons as the nation still recovers from the attacks at two Christchurch mosques that left 50 people dead and dozens wounded.

READ MORE: 4-year-old Christchurch shooting victim wakes from coma, and now she can’t see

Anyone in possession of these weapons now faces a penalty of up to five years in prison.

On Thursday, New Zealand’s governor general Patsy Reddy signed into effect the new gun laws.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern wasted no time in pushing for changes to the nation’s laws — she started pressuring her cabinet to tighten the country’s gun laws within two days of the March 15 shooting.

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READ MORE: ‘One of New Zealand’s darkest days’: NZ prime minister comments on double mosque attack

“Every semi-automatic weapon used in the terrorist attack … will be banned in this country,” Ardern announced at a March 21 press conference.

WATCH: New Zealand shooter covered weapons with names of other killers

Taking apart the writing and symbols on the guns allegedly used in Christchurch shooting
Taking apart the writing and symbols on the guns allegedly used in Christchurch shooting

Less than two weeks later, lawmakers in New Zealand voted 119 to one to pass the bill for tighter gun restrictions — the ones put forward by the prime minister.

The country’s parliament passed the laws on April 10.

READ MORE: Christchurch shootings killed more people than 6 years of New Zealand gun homicides combined: stats

Before the shooting, New Zealand citizens could possess handguns, military-style semi-automatic weapons or fully-automatic firearms with a permit to purchase and a relevant firearm licence.

The estimated total number of firearms — both licit and illicit — held by civilians in the nation is 1.5 million, according to data from GunPolicy.org.

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